A late-August start date and a significant pay increase for female footballers have been confirmed as part of a one-year bridging AFLW Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Season seven of the NAB AFLW competition will commence on the final weekend of August and will consist of 10 home-and-away rounds.

The season will end with a four-week finals series, including the Grand Final on the last weekend of November. An extra week of finals has been introduced and will feature a top eight, rather than a top six, per previous years.

The substantial pay rise equates to an average increase of 94 per cent across all four payment tiers, with players having their previously unpaid hours (maintaining fitness, recovery etc.) recognised in the new deal.

Top tier players will be remunerated with $71,935, while the minimum AFLW wage will increase from $20,239 to around $39,184.

The NAB AFLW draft has been announced for Wednesday 29 June, with Port Adelaide keen to complete its list with some of the best up-and-coming talent.

The confirmed start date is a relief for clubs around the country, particularly those preparing to head into their first AFLW pre-season.

“We are thrilled to have concrete dates in place to support our planning for the season ahead,” Port Adelaide Head of AFLW, Juliet Haslam said.

“The pay deal is significant for our female athletes and will make such a difference to the way they are able to commit themselves to football. This is a history-making day for the league and for our players.”

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AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said the announcement provides certainty for players and clubs and continues the trajectory of sustained growth for the league and women’s football across the country.

“We appreciate everyone’s patience, especially the players and clubs over the last few weeks, and that patience has resulted in a great agreement for both the players and the broader industry,” McLachlan said.

“The agreement represents a landmark improvement in pay for AFLW players and an historic level of investment in domestic women’s sport that truly values the contribution of our players and is a giant step forward in achieving our vision of ensuring AFLW players are the best paid female athletes in any local professional competition by 2030.”

The upcoming season will be the first season to have all 18 clubs compete, with Port, Hawthorn, Sydney and Essendon set to join the league.

The next CBA is expected to focus on season length, with the AFL Players’ Association aiming for a full-time, 18-round competition by 2026.

Key dates for AFLW season 7

  • AFLW Expansion Signing Period 24 May 2022
  • Sign and Trade Period 31 May 2022
  • NAB AFLW Draft 29 June 2022
  • Pre-season commences 13 June 2022
  • Season Commences, 25-27 August 2022*
  • Finals commences, 4-6 November 2022*
  • NAB AFLW Grand Final, Weekend of 25-27 November 2022*

*Fixtured dates and game times TBC