Our Sporting Life SA

A South Australian website publication that delivers a passionate and unique insight into SA Sport

Salary Cap Shock


It seems a surprise to know some teams in the South Australian Community Football Leagues will be allowed to spend more than an SANFL club when it comes to the Player Salary Caps in 2021.

Yes, that's correct and sustainable or not, it's baffling that the rules enable SA Community Football Clubs to spend over the SANFL Salary Cap of $210,000.

An example below shows a team in Whyalla would be able to spend upwards of $231,000 in 2021 based on the updated Regulation 31.

The SANFL is still classed as a semi-professional competition, players work day jobs and train from four to five sessions a week to be able to compete at the State League football level but also making it more difficult is the fact players must play against two teams that have professional players.

Yet the 2021 SANFL Salary Cap was slashed to just $210,000 for the season, down from $400,000 in 2019.

With such a big reduction in the SANFL Salary Cap, most assumed the SA Community Football League would have announced a similar large hit, yet their reduction was only 29% plus all of their existing exemptions remain unchanged - that's the money allowed to be spent outside the Salary Cap.

The Community Football Salary Cap exemptions seem endless, things like Private Health Insurance, Meals, Apparel, Superannuation, Income Protection, Travel, Milestone Game Payments, Representative Football Payments and a Playing Coach payment.

An example of an exemption is Private Health Insurance has to be included inside the SANFL Salary Cap but for SA Community Football Teams, it's an exemption!

As per the Regulation 31, Community Football League teams are allowed to pay the following amounts for 2021-

- $2,500 per match (including finals)

- $20,000 for a Playing Coach (approximately $1,052 per week over 19 games)

- $600 in Weekly Incentives (including finals)


- $30 Per Player for After Match Meals

- $0.50 per km for each km greater than 100km round trip for Match Day only.

- Health Insurance

- Income Protection

- Superannuation


If we were to pick a football club 385kms away from Adelaide, let's say Whyalla for example.

A team in Whyalla would be allowed to pay the following under regulation 31, plus other exemptions that are also not added in this example-

- $2,500 per week (18 games + 3 finals) = $52,500.00

- $600 in incentives per week (21 matches) = $12,600.00

- Have a playing coach = $20,000.00 (yearly payment)

- Have 10 players travelling from the City of Adelaide to Whyalla per match is $335 per player (770km round trip from Adelaide to Whyalla - 100km = 670km @ 0.50km - per player for ten players (4 points players and 6 former local players worth zero points) travelling from the City of Adelaide over 21 games = $70,350.00

- Private Health Insurance based on $2500 a year, per player, for 25 players = $62,500

- $30 per player for 22 players per week ($660 a week) in Meal Vouchers = $13,860

TOTAL ALLOWED SPEND = $231,810 (This is without Superannuation, Income Protection or Player Apparel which can also be added as an exemption)

The exemptions seem quite significant and is the reason some clubs in 2021 are allowed to pay more than an SANFL State League club!

Some more examples are here but also keep in mind if there are more locals (zero point players) travelling then the total amount will be more!


- If we did the same calculations with a town 182kms away from Adelaide being perhaps Waikerie they could potentially pay upwards of $179,020 and this is without paying Superannuation, Income Protection or Player Apparel which can also be added.

BAROSSA CLUB- - The same calculations could be done for a club in the Barossa and their total spend, let's use Nuriootpa for example. Under the same calculations they would have an allowed spend upwards of $159,830 and this again is without paying Superannuation, Income Protection or Player Apparel which can also be added. Using the same method as the Whyalla example, here are some examples of what some clubs would be allowed to pay under the current rules. PORT LINCOLN-

Port Lincoln in the same calculations- $222,180 (based on 18 games)

PENOLA- Penola upwards of $217,000 (based on 19 games) Here are some questions from Our Sporting Life SA and answers received from the SANFL's Matt Duldig in relation to the above figures. OSLSA: The SANFL has recently made a decision to reduce the Salary Cap to $210,000 for the 2021 season, are there any exemptions allowed on top of this total amount of $210,000? Matt Duldig: The SANFL salary cap is for League player payments only and therefore does not include salaries for coaches, Reserves players and other player benefits. OSLSA: Is it correct that an SANFL Club has to allow for Private Health Insurance inside their $210,000 cap whereas a SA Community Football Club the Private Health Insurance is regarded as an exemption? Matt Duldig: All senior players at SANFL Clubs have access to medical treatment and injury prevention available through the club, including doctors, physios, trainers etc at no cost to them. Furthermore, SANFL Clubs at all levels have the highest possible Marsh Insurance cover. A community club player, however, in most cases is required to source all of their treatment from health providers as most community clubs do not have the resources or volunteers to provide this medical expertise. Reimbursement of individual private health cover for the period of the football season only is therefore available to them – it is also not an upfront cash payment but a reimbursement after proof of purchase. With all of these Salary Cap exemptions and after doing some calculations, a team - I'll use Penola for example - are allegedly allowed to pay upwards of $210,000 in 2021? $2,500 per week (16 games + 3 finals) = $47,500.00 $600 incentives per week (19 matches) = $11,400.00 $20,000 playing coach = $20,000.00 $332 (764km round trip from Adelaide to Penola - 100km = 664km @ 0.50km per player for ten players travelling from the City of Adelaide over 19 games = $63,080.00 $2,500 Private Health Insurance for 25 players = $62,500 $660 per week in Meal Vouchers = $12,540 TOTAL ALLOWED SPEND = $217,020 (This is without Superannuation, Income Protection or Player Apparel) OSLSA: If this is correct, why would a Community Football Club be allowed to spend more than a State League club? Matt Duldig: These figures are an extremely inflated view of Community Football player payments and it would be unsustainable for any community club to make such payments. Importantly, the Approved Player Points System for Community Clubs plays a significant part in limiting the number recruits each year. SANFL is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of all clubs and leagues across South Australia and to assist in navigating the challenges they will confront in 2021. The financial impact COVID-19 has had, and will continue to have, on club revenue streams is significant. This includes potential limitations on events and spectators as well as sponsorship, including impacts on local business. In addition, a number of affiliated leagues have not competed this year and there has been considerable player movement with the abandonment of season 2020. We will continue to monitor and review all regulations to ensure they are appropriate for South Australian football.

Some Community Football Teams are cashed up and ready to go for Season 2021, it seems a blight on our great State League Competition that Community Clubs are allowed to spend more on players than an SANFL club. Please note: All figures calculated may actually be lower or higher with the amount of games or players receiving exemptions. by Andrew Frackowski.