Geelong coach Chris Scott says he believes AFL players are being unfairly criticised during ongoing pay negotiations with the league.
- Chris Scott believes the criticism levelled at AFL players “doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation”
- AFL players could have their pay cut by almost 80 per cent
- Scott says the AFL Players’ Association has been displaying leadership during the pay talks
Players have been asked to take an almost 80 per cent pay cut to help the competition, which is on hold, survive the financial destruction caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has offered to match whatever percentage the players eventually agree to regarding their salaries.
Players have come under fire in some quarters, with AFL great Leigh Matthews saying he had lost respect for the collective playing group.
But those remarks drew a staunch defence from some players, including Richmond star Jack Riewoldt, who said Matthews had been “a bit irresponsible” with his criticism.
Scott, who has offered to forgo his entire pay packet while the competition is shut down, said he does not believe AFL players deserved the criticism they had received.
“Clearly they are losing the PR (public relations) battle in all of this and really now’s not a time for PR, but the perception of them is not a good one,” Scott told the SEN radio station.
“In my opinion, especially with the players that I’ve dealt with, it doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.
“[AFL Players’ Association president] Patrick Dangerfield, I think, is taking his leadership responsibility really seriously.
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“The definition of leadership in some ways is taking responsibility for things even when it may not be your position or it may not be your fault.
“I might be betraying his privacy a little bit but when I speak to him I sense a resolve to get through this using whatever means are possible, not to try to push an agenda of any particular party.”
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About 80 per cent of AFL and club staff have this week been stood down, with the competition on hold until at least May 31.
Clubs are likely to drastically scale back their operations in the coming months, leaving many people within the game jobless.
“I suspect it’s going to get worse before it gets better and that doesn’t give people much comfort,” Scott said.
“Some of the leaders in society, our Premier [Daniel Andrews] for example, have talked about that.
“We’ve got to face up to the reality here even if it’s not pleasant.
“It is going to be difficult and you’ve got to steel yourself to get through it as best as possible and with as much compassion as possible.”
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