Recent debate has focused on whether AFL coaches ought to be on
a fixed term contract or in a permanent employment relationship.
The club's desire to lock in a top coach, but without knowing
whether they will deliver this season or the next, is part of the
complexity, as is the coach's need to make the most of a
limited professional opportunity to coach a top club, and build
their long term reputation.
Intense media speculation over poor performance has also been
blamed for creating unnecessary uncertainty in the club-coach
There are six points to consider, whatever type of legal
relationship is chosen by the club and coach:
There is only one ultimate winner at the end of the season
– do the maths on the probability of any coach being
successful, one, two or three seasons in a row is not that great in
A coach needs long term certainty to build the right team
– a club needs goals, now!
No goals reached, and a club is always unhappy!
A sacked coach is always unhappy!
The legal remedies never satisfactorily provide justice to a
club's or coach's reputation and long term prospects in the
The media will always speculate. It's their job.
There is no magic in simply converting from a contract to an
employment relationship. Negotiating a contract requires trust and
compromise. Only a foolish club executive will put faith in a coach
making wild promises to turn around a club's fortunes. A
contract must provide for when things go wrong, with a clearly
defined exit strategy, including the management of media
Kicking a goal in this debate first needs recognition of the
above tensions. Negotiation, point by point, is a precursor to a
well-drafted agreement that benefits both club and coach, and
ultimately the AFL Code in the long term.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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