Easton Wood Backs Wage Cut Plans To Offset Gambling Reliance

Easton Wood Backs Wage Cut Plans To Offset Gambling Reliance
© PA

Western Bulldogs captain Easton Wood has become the first high-profile AFL player to back a potential wage cut if it meant the sport reduced its reliance on gambling advertising.

Wood, an AFL Players' Association delegate, is pushing for changes in the way the next broadcast deal is struck, which could include new limitations on broadcasters partnering with betting companies.

The premiership skipper told Fox Footy's On The Mark program: “I'd happily take less philosophically if that's what it's going to take to do the right thing and do what's best for the code and kids coming through.

“But whether or not the AFL playing cohort that we represent on the board with the PA (Players' Association), whether that's their opinion, I'm not sure that it is.

“So that would be a difficult one and it's a conversation to have. It's definitely something I'll be raising though.”

The issue of gambling advertisements and the AFL reared its head once again last week when Collingwood player Jaidyn Stephenson was hit with a 10-match suspension for gambling on three AFL games, which included bets on himself to kick goals and for his team to win.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley criticised the code over its attitude to gambling, pointing out an “irony” in the penalty handed to Stephenson when the AFL has a commercial partnership with gambling.

Irony in Sports Betting Advertising

“There is a bit of an irony in penalising someone for gambling but then receiving money for it,” Buckley told Melbourne radio station SEN.

“The irony is being critical of the actions but then having it splashed everywhere.

“I was watching [Fox Footy's] AFL 360 last night and I think I had to sit [through] three or four different gambling ads.”

As well as a broadcast deal worth $2.508 billion over six years, which expires after the 2022 season, the AFL has a commercial agreement with the top bookmaker Bet Easy, which is reported to be worth $10 million, while their website features ads for gambling odds and contains a weekly video segment discussing odds on games.

Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon has also come out in support of Wood's position, saying his latest comments marked a "really important step" in the safeguarding of the sport going forward.

Gordon told ABC Radio Melbourne: “Players' payments [are] a very big part of the economics of the AFL and one of the justifications for the involvement of betting money in the industry is to keep up with player payment standards.

“So, for a player to challenge that and say 'you know what, we'd take less if you can remove it' is a really important step because it's a big chunk of money..”