AFL; A record 19 players earned more than $1 million in 2023

The average AFL player wage moved close to $450,000 in 2023 with a record 19 players earning at least $1 million amid a cash boom for the league.

With the salary cap set to hit a staggering $17.7m in 2025, the number of annual million-dollar players is set to surge with league revenue also increasing by$104.5m and on an upward trend.

On Monday the AFL released its 2023 salary breakdown with the new collective bargaining agreement handing players a 10 per cent backdated pay rise for 2023.

It bumped the average player salary to $441,464 and boosted the number of footy millionaires from 12 in 2022 to 19 in 2023. By 2027, average player wages will be $519,000.

Of the 19 who earned seven-figures in 2023, there are 12 who earned more than $1.2m with players including Richmond superstar Dustin Martin ($1.25-$1.35m) as well as Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe and West Coast’s Jeremy McGovern as the highest-paid players in the game.

Also reported among the figures was that not a single AFL player earned less than $100,000 in 2023.

It comes as AFL executives pocketed $1.8m more in 2023 with total payments increasing from $11.8m to $13.6m, with the league attributing the rise to the “transition costs” associated with chief executive Gillon McLachlan’s departure in October after Andrew Dillon had been named his successor in May.

AFL Commission chair Richard Goyder thanked the football community for its “collective effort” as the AFL’s operating surplus jumped to $27.7m in 2023 – up from $20.7m in 2022.

“The AFL season was nothing short of remarkable, both in the quality of the football played on the ground and in the support of it, and the incredible momentum built through the year culminated in one of the greatest premiership seasons and final series the game has seen. I want to congratulate everyone who played a part,” Goyder said.

“The same was true of our AFLW season where the football was the best we have witnessed with an amazing finals series that enthralled all and we are committed to working with the AFLPA and players and clubs to continue to expand the numbers of those watching and attending.”

Other players believed to have raked in over $1m include West Coast midfielder Tim Kelly, Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli, Demons stars Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca, Geelong star Jeremy Cameron and Carlton captain Patrick Cripps.

The average waged jumped by 11 per cent and under the new pay deal brokered last season, wages will leap another 5.1 per cent in 2024 and 12.6 per cent in 2025.

The total player payments will jump from $15,022,778 in 2023 to $15,788,222 this year, before rising to $17.76m in 2025, $18.29m in 2026 and $18.44m in 2027.

Players split an additional $1.27m per club in additional services (marketing) across the life of the new CBA which runs until 2027.

With annual increases taken in to consideration, there could be as many as 50 players who will be paid $1 million in 2025.

Originally published as A record 19 AFL players earned more than $1 million in 2023