Full-time on pay debate in AFL Wide Bay
A FOCUS on giving juniors a chance to umpire has ended the pay dispute in the AFL Wide Bay competition.
The Wide Bay Football Umpires Association and AFL Wide Bay have come to an agreement for the upcoming season after a few months of negotiations.
The deal will see umpires provide a full complement for all seniors matches but just field umpires in under-16s.
The agreement doesn't include reserves but Gympie reserves will be covered as they won't be fielding an under-16 side.
Umpires will be paid $400 a senior game, an increase from the 2016 rates when the competition was AFL Wide Bay like it is this year.
It is a decrease of the $456 a senior game the umpires got last year when they were part of the QFA Sunshine Coast Wide Bay league, which was run by the AFL Queensland.
"We took the offer,” WBFUA president Matt Parsons said.
"It's an increase from what we've got prior to the Sunshine Coast competition.
"We're also getting travel costs covered for trips to Gympie because it is quite a way for some umpires to go.”
Not every umpire was happy with the result of negotiations.
Parsons said some senior umpires wanted to pursue the issue further in an effort to get more money.
But the president said the negotiations had to stop for one reason: juniors.
"They play in under-14s and under-16s and then umpire senior grade,” he said.
"If we didn't take the deal we walk away from that pathway.
"We wanted to keep it going and get better the next set of junior umpires.”
Parsons said he firmly believed the deal was now done, and negotiations going forward would be more productive.
"This year was an anomaly because of the different competitions,” he said.
"We've both learned lessons about it along the way.
"This year we'll be building the bridges back and bringing good will to both parties.
AFL Wide Bay president Anthony Stothard welcomed the deal.
"It's smooth sailing for round one now,” he said.
"We feel it was fair what we were paying them and it's great we've come to an agreement.
"We were secretly always confident of affiliation.”
The deal will also include the AFL Wide Bay women's grand final this weekend, between Hervey Bay and The Waves on Saturday.
Umpires will now be registered and be ready to umpire this weekend when the first round of the AFL Wide Bay competition begins on the Fraser Coast.