In 1980, before the expansion of the league into a national competition and the game into a professional sport, players earned around $11,000 per season. This meant that players would have separate full-time employment outside of the game.
By 1991 and with the salary cap in full force, the average wage rose to around $46,429 per year, with 8 players earning six figures. Since then the competition has gone from strength to strength and the top players are handsomely rewarded.
Entering the 2019 season, the AFL announced that six players earned over $1 million in 2018, however that was down from 9 players the season prior.
The average salary of an AFL player currently sits at a comfortable $362,471 annually, with Sydney Swans superstar Lance Franklin understood to be the highest paid player pulling in around $1.3 million per year.
The other players that are believed to be on over $1 million per season include Brownlow Medalists Dustin Martin (Richmond) and Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe. Bulldogs big man Tom Boyd and GWS Giants forward Jeremy Cameron are also on a seven figure salary while Tom Lynch was thought to be paid over the mark before his move to Richmond this season.