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 relationship.
There are six points to consider, whatever type of legal relationship is chosen by the club and coach:
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 comment.
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.