What does that mean?
First: Major League Footy seeks to eliminate all age, gender, and financial barriers to player participation for anyone wishing to play Australian Rules football in the United States.
Second: We can’t do that without a sustainable, responsible growth model aligned with the mainstream business practices of American sports.
Major League Footy does not operate on the traditional ‘club’ model prevalent in the sport, both in Australia and worldwide.
With some exceptions or waivers for developing teams, MLF teams are operated as a business, not as a club.
Major League Footy teams do not have a traditional ‘Board of Directors’ structure common to Australian Football.
Instead, players are represented – in on-field and other player welfare issues – collectively by a Players Association, independent of but partially funded by MLF.
Owners pay a franchise fee to the league, and approved franchisees are granted franchises in a protected market.
The League provides the infrastructure and best practices for the successful operation of its franchise owners. The League’s dealings are with each individual team owner.
MLF Is Not ‘Non-Profit’
While the League does not dictate the business structure of individual franchises, Major League Footy as a league is organized as a ‘for-profit’ enterprise, and is structured as an Association of Owners.
What does ‘semi-pro’ mean for a player?
Major League Footy players are not paid a salary, nor do they earn a ‘paycheck’ for playing footy.
Although the nomenclature may be unfamiliar to some, ‘semi-pro sports’ in North America – particularly junior ice hockey, American football (particularly indoor) and soccer, is defined by creating some pathway for a player to be compensated for being associated with a team, while also protecting a player’s amateur status (for tournament play, international competitions, etc).
A player’s amateur status as an Aussie Rules player is not impacted by playing in Major League Footy.
However, all clubs and leagues outside of MLF have their own eligibility rules and requirements that may be determined by factors beyond a player’s amateur status.
Then, what makes MLF ‘semi-pro’?
First, there are no league registration fees for players, and there are no club dues mandated by the league.
Secondly, Major League Footy teams provide players with everything needed to play footy, including: jumpers; shorts and socks. Players are not expected to pay for this equipment.
Players, fans and supporters alike are (of course) welcome to become supporting members of their respective clubs, but membership/paid status has no correlation to participation.
Other Than No Dues and Provided Gear, How Are Participating MLF Players Compensated?
By definition, ‘Semi-pro’ means you will not be paid expressly for playing footy. ‘Semi-pro’ by definition also preserves a player’s amateur status.
That said, MLF Players who opt-in to a participating Major League Footy team’s Ticket Sales Revenue program are compensated as independent contractors of the ticketing function of their team, and are paid a commission based on the ticket sales revenue they personally generate.
Easier said: Your team may offer you an opportunity to earn commission if you sell tickets as an independent contractor, but you are not paid for playing footy.
Players are never required to sell tickets on behalf of their team.
What About Import Players?
Major League Footy is open to all players wishing to participate.
There are no restrictions on the number of import players on the ground for MLF game-play, and the League does actively recruit import players. We do want the level of MLF game-play to represent the best standard of Australian Football possible.
However, the league and its teams do not pay relocation, moving or travel expenses for import players.
While MLF teams may engage an import player as an independent contractor under the Ticket Sales Revenue program, teams do not offer any other form of employment or employment assistance for import players.
Are There Exceptions To Anything Above?
Yes. You may find that your MLF footy team does have a board of directors, or perhaps assesses dues…or perhaps does not charge admission / sell tickets to matches. New teams and teams in a transitional phase toward full Major League Footy membership may request and be granted time-limited exemptions or waivers to league policies on a case-by-case basis.
Is Major League Footy Aligned With Other Leagues or Governing Bodies?
Major League Footy is independent, and is not currently affiliated with any other league or governing body in the sport of Australian Rules football. Major League Footy game-play under the rules of Footy 9s is administrated by Australian Football International, an independent organization working to grow the sport in international markets.