The Western Sydney Wanderers are currently on their way to Morocco for the World Club Championship (WCC), but whether they take the field remains unknown.
The players are currently locked in a pay dispute with the club, demanding to be compensated more fairly than what the club has offered. As it stands, the club are offering an elevated compensation percentage based on their results. If they are knocked out in the first round, the players will receive 10% of the club’s prize money. Should they go on to win the whole competition, they’ll receive 50%. To do this the club will need to defeat Spanish giants Real Madrid, meaning the likelihood of the reaching the 50% is very slim. In fact, the Wanderers are heavy underdogs to progress past the first round, so it is likely that the club will receive a total of $1.2 million, meaning the players will divide $120,000 between them.
In comparison, the players’ received 50% of the prize money for winning the Asian Champions League, and would have regardless of where they finished. This falls under the A League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), however performances in the WCC do not. It is understood the players are willing to accept a figure less than 50%.
A statement from the Wanderers explains that the prize money will be used to improve facilities and run community programs, and that this money is vital to those plans going ahead.
The case seems to boil down to the Wanderers wanting to take the ‘first money out’. What this means is they want to ensure that their projects are funded from the prize money before compensating the players. Think of it as a Hollywood movie where a star takes a percentage of gross profits before the investors are paid. They’ve clearly costed these initiatives and found that is the amount they need at minimum to ensure they can carry them out. If the team progresses and the compensation becomes greater, the club can afford to distribute more to the players.
This isn’t to say that this methodology is necessarily right. The players are more than entitled a fair share of the spoils, because without their performances, there would be no WCC. What figure that should be is up for debate, but it can certainly set a precedent for the future. The Professional Footballers’ Association should look to include a WCC section in the next CBA, ensuring that such a dispute will not occur again.