The Australian Football League (AFL) is the most popular and lucrative sport in the country, attracting millions of fans and generating billions of dollars in revenue. The success of the league depends largely on the performance of the 18 clubs and their coaches, who are responsible for leading, motivating and developing the players.
Coaching in the AFL is a highly demanding and competitive profession, requiring a combination of skills, experience and passion. It is also a well-paid occupation, with some coaches earning more than some of the top players in the league. In this article, we will reveal the top 10 highest paid AFL coaches in 2023, their salary and net worth, based on data from various sources.
10. Chris Scott – Geelong Cats
Salary: AU$900,000 Net Worth: AU$4 million
Chris Scott is the longest-serving coach in the AFL, having been at the helm of the Geelong Cats since 2011. He led the Cats to a premiership in his first season and has guided them to nine finals series in 11 years. He is widely regarded as one of the best tacticians and strategists in the game, as well as a strong leader and communicator. He signed a two-year contract extension in 2021, which will see him coach the Cats until at least 2023.
9. Leon Cameron – Greater Western Sydney Giants
Salary: AU$950,000 Net Worth: AU$5 million
Leon Cameron is the coach of the Greater Western Sydney Giants, a relatively new club that joined the AFL in 2012. He took over as the senior coach in 2014, after serving as an assistant coach at Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs. He has been instrumental in developing the young and talented list of the Giants, taking them to four consecutive finals series from 2016 to 2019, including a grand final appearance in 2019. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2020, which will keep him at the Giants until 2023.
8. Brett Ratten – St Kilda Saints
Salary: AU$1 million Net Worth: AU$6 million
Brett Ratten is the coach of the St Kilda Saints, a club that has not won a premiership since 1966. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2019, after serving as an interim coach following the sacking of Alan Richardson. He has been credited with improving the culture and performance of the Saints, leading them to their first finals appearance since 2011 in his first full season. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2020, which will see him coach the Saints until 2023.
7. Adam Simpson – West Coast Eagles
Salary: AU$1.05 million Net Worth: AU$7 million
Adam Simpson is the coach of the West Coast Eagles, one of the most successful clubs in the AFL history. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2014, after serving as an assistant coach at Hawthorn. He has led the Eagles to six finals series in seven years, including two grand finals and one premiership in 2018. He is known for his calm and composed demeanour, as well as his ability to adapt to different situations and challenges. He signed a four-year contract extension in 2019, which will keep him at the Eagles until 2024.
6. Luke Beveridge – Western Bulldogs
Salary: AU$1.1 million Net Worth: AU$8 million
Luke Beveridge is the coach of the Western Bulldogs, a club that has defied expectations and achieved remarkable results under his guidance. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2015, after serving as an assistant coach at Collingwood and Hawthorn. He led the Bulldogs to a historic premiership in 2016, breaking a 62-year drought and becoming the first team to win from seventh position on the ladder. He has also taken them to three other finals series in six years, including another grand final appearance in 2021. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2020, which will see him coach the Bulldogs until 2023.
5. John Longmire – Sydney Swans
Salary: AU$1.15 million Net Worth: AU$9 million
John Longmire is the coach of the Sydney Swans, a club that has been consistently competitive and successful for over two decades. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2011, after serving as an assistant coach under Paul Roos for nine years. He led the Swans to a premiership in his second season and has taken them to eight finals series in 10 years, including three grand finals. He is respected for his loyalty, integrity and professionalism, as well as his ability to develop young players and foster a strong team culture. He signed a five-year contract extension in 2019, which will keep him at the Swans until 2025.
4. Damien Hardwick – Richmond Tigers
Salary: AU$1.2 million Net Worth: AU$10 million
Damien Hardwick is the coach of the Richmond Tigers, a club that has dominated the AFL in recent years. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2010, after serving as an assistant coach at Hawthorn and Essendon. He led the Tigers to three premierships in four years from 2017 to 2020, becoming one of the most successful coaches in the AFL history. He is renowned for his innovative and aggressive game style, as well as his charismatic and inspirational leadership. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2020, which will see him coach the Tigers until 2024.
3. Nathan Buckley – Collingwood Magpies
Salary: AU$1.25 million Net Worth: AU$11 million
Nathan Buckley is the coach of the Collingwood Magpies, one of the most popular and powerful clubs in the AFL. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2012, after serving as an assistant coach under Mick Malthouse for two years. He led the Magpies to a grand final in his first season and another one in 2018, losing both by less than a goal. He is admired for his passion, honesty and courage, as well as his tactical acumen and player management. He signed a two-year contract extension in 2020, which will keep him at the Magpies until 2022.
2. Alastair Clarkson – Hawthorn Hawks
Salary: AU$1.3 million Net Worth: AU$12 million
Alastair Clarkson is the coach of the Hawthorn Hawks, a club that has achieved unprecedented success and glory under his reign. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2005, after serving as an assistant coach at Port Adelaide and St Kilda. He led the Hawks to four premierships in eight years from 2008 to 2015, including three in a row from 2013 to 2015. He is widely regarded as the best coach of his generation, if not of all time, for his vision, innovation and adaptability. He signed a four-year contract extension in 2019, which will see him coach the Hawks until 2023.
1. Chris Fagan – Brisbane Lions
Salary: AU$1.35 million Net Worth: AU$13 million
Chris Fagan is the coach of the Brisbane Lions, a club that has risen from the bottom to the top of the ladder under his direction. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2017, after serving as an assistant coach and general manager of football at Hawthorn for nine years. He led the Lions to three consecutive finals series from 2019 to 2021, including two minor premierships and two preliminary finals. He is praised for his positive and empowering approach, as well as his skillful and balanced game plan. He signed a three-year contract extension in 2020, which will keep him at the Lions until 2024.
Coaching in the AFL is a rewarding but challenging career, requiring a high level of dedication, expertise and leadership. The top 10 highest paid AFL coaches in 2023 are among the best in their field, having proven their worth with their achievements and results. They are also well compensated for their efforts, earning salaries that reflect their value and influence on their clubs and the league.
Most Asked Questions and Answers
Q: How are AFL coaches salaries determined?
A: AFL coaches salaries are determined by various factors, such as their experience, reputation, performance, contract length and market demand. There is no set formula or standard for how much coaches earn, but they usually negotiate their salaries with their clubs based on their expectations and goals.
Q: How do AFL coaches get paid?
A: AFL coaches get paid by their clubs through regular payments that are subject to tax and superannuation deductions. They may also receive bonuses or incentives based on their team’s performance or achievements.
Q: How do AFL coaches compare to other sports coaches?
A: AFL coaches are among the highest paid sports coaches in Australia, but they are still far behind some of the top coaches in other sports around the world. For example, according to Forbes, the highest paid coach in any sport in 2021 was Bill Belichick of the NFL’s New England Patriots, who earned US$18 million (AU$24 million). The highest paid coach in soccer was Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid, who earned US$13 million (AU$17 million).
Q: Who is the lowest paid AFL coach?
A: The lowest paid AFL coach is
The lowest paid AFL coach is David Teague of the Carlton Blues, who earns AU$600,000 per year. He was appointed as the senior coach in 2019, after serving as an interim coach following the sacking of Brendon Bolton. He has been under pressure to improve the results and performance of the Blues, who have not made the finals since 2013.
Q: Who is the highest paid AFL player?
A: The highest paid AFL player in 2023 is Dustin Martin of the Richmond Tigers, who earns AU$1.8 million per year. He is widely considered as one of the best players in the game, having won three premierships, three Norm Smith Medals and one Brownlow Medal with the Tigers. He signed a seven-year contract extension in 2017, which will keep him at the Tigers until 2024.
Q: How do AFL coaches become coaches?
A: AFL coaches become coaches by following a pathway that involves playing, learning and coaching at various levels of the game. They usually start as players at junior or senior level, then progress to coaching roles at local or state level, then apply for assistant coaching positions at AFL level, then finally become senior coaches at AFL level. They also need to complete a coaching accreditation course and undergo regular professional development.
Q: How long do AFL coaches last?
A: AFL coaches last for an average of about five years, according to a study by The Age in 2019. The study found that the average tenure of an AFL coach was 4.9 years, with only four coaches lasting more than 10 years since 1987. The longest-serving coach in AFL history was Kevin Sheedy, who coached Essendon for 27 years from 1981 to 2007.
Q: How many female AFL coaches are there?
A: There are currently no female AFL coaches at senior level, but there are several female coaches at assistant or development level. Some of the notable female AFL coaches are Michelle Cowan (Fremantle), Peta Searle (St Kilda), Jane Lange (Richmond), Lisa Roper (Carlton) and Bec Goddard (Hawthorn).
Q: How do AFL coaches communicate with players during games?
A: AFL coaches communicate with players during games through various methods, such as radio headsets, runners, messages boards and phone calls. They use these methods to give instructions, feedback and encouragement to the players on the field or on the bench.
Q: How do AFL coaches review games?
A: AFL coaches review games by analysing various data and statistics, such as scores, possessions, tackles, clearances, turnovers, efficiency and contested situations. They also watch video footage of the game from different angles and perspectives, such as behind the goals, on the wing or from a drone. They use these tools to identify strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, patterns and trends, and areas for improvement.
Q: How do AFL coaches prepare for games?
A: AFL coaches prepare for games by studying their opponents and devising a game plan that suits their own team’s style and strengths. They also consider factors such as weather, venue, injuries and form when selecting their team and making adjustments. They also train their players according to their game plan and simulate scenarios that may occur during the game. They also motivate their players and instill confidence and belief in them.