SALARY cap reductions could become a common theme in the Wimmera.
The Wimmera Football League and Horsham District league clubs have had their salary caps cut by 20 per cent for 2021, as clubs deal with the financial reality of having no sport this year.
And league officials say the cap could continue to drop in future seasons to help clubs remain sustainable.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee's Jason Muldoon said clubs' "disposable income" was likely to be decreased due to having no gate-takings this year and a potential decline in sponsorship revenue.
He said it presented a valuable chance to tighten the salary cap, which would help clubs in the long term.
"With COVID hitting, the opportunity has arisen to make a significant reduction," he said.
"(The salary cap) is there to help clubs be sustainable. Obviously when it was brought in, it was off the back of feedback from clubs saying that spending was out of control, and they had no way of controlling it.
"It needed to be legislated to be able to bring that under control, because if it kept going in the direction that it was going, then clubs were in danger of folding and not existing."
"Obviously it has come back 20 per cent this year, and we will have discussions about whether it stays at this level for 2022 and 2023," he said.
"In conversations I've had, clubs have said they are quite willing to roll it back even further.
"I doubt it would continue to decline at the rate of 20 per cent, but it could be reduced further."
Harrow-Balmoral president Michael Phelan supported the trend toward a smaller cap.
Mr Phelan said it would be healthy for the longevity of leagues to reconsider the amount players are paid.
"I know people say they are struggling to attract players, and money is a big part of that, but when you hear some of the figures that get thrown around, it's just not sustainable in the long term," he said.
"In my view, we need to change the way in which people view playing for clubs. If their pay packet is the most important thing, then that says more about them than the club.
"If we need to take a risk (the risk of losing players) to get people to stop and think about why they play the game, then I dare say a lot of clubs around would be prepared to take that risk.
"It's a perfect opportunity to tighten things up a little bit. Obviously the main reason to lower the cap is because clubs are feeling the strain this year, but more generally it's probably a good way to go."
Mr Muldoon also said that the reduction of the salary cap was in some part an equalisation measure.
He said clubs would be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic differently depending on where their major source of revenue came from.
"It's not the main reason for the policy, but there is certainly some equalisation factors built into that," he said.
"The coronavirus has had different impacts on different clubs. The agricultural sector at the moment seems to be coping quite well, so the clubs that have some sort of income from agricultural activities may not be as affected as some other clubs."
Clubs receive a different salary cap depending primarily on their geographical location.
Clubs in more populated areas - such as Horsham - receive a smaller cap than clubs based in smaller and more isolated communities.
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