Two-time AFLW best and fairest Erin Phillips fears more cuts to elite women's football programs and competitions are inevitable.
Erin Phillips says there isn’t much left to cut from AFLW programs’ funding. Credit:Getty Images
The Adelaide premiership winner also told The Age she had been encouraged by the AFL's commitment in discussions with the league and the AFL Players Association to play a 2021 AFLW season.
"If it [more cuts] does happen, it wouldn’t come as a surprise," Phillips said. "Everyone has done it tough, everyone has had to make cuts.
"To say there won’t be some type of financial cut to our program would be really surprising.
"Hopefully it doesn’t [happen], but it wouldn’t be a surprise."
Richmond recently announced they would not enter the VFLW next season because of financial constraints, Geelong have made their head of women's footy role redundant and North Melbourne have made their AFLW coach redundant.
Scott Gowans had an 11-3 record in two seasons in charge of North, but was replaced by Darren Crocker, who will split the role of AFLW coach and men's team scout.
Asked how much AFLW programs could stand in the way of funding cuts, Phillips responded: "Honestly, AFLW, none. We are very limited in our resources.
"I still feel like we need more medical [help], there needs to be more physiotherapists. All clubs run things different, I know, but you can’t take away medical, you can’t take away physical because of injury prevention.
"It is really limited in how much you can take away. Hopefully none, because we need all the assistance we can get.
"If there are cuts, it wouldn’t surprise me because there have been so many jobs lost. It has been devastating as a whole AFL family."
The AFL remains committed to playing an AFLW season in 2021 beginning in February, its regular slot, while no decision has been made about the 2021 VFLW season.
Phillips, a FIBA basketball world cup winner and two-time WNBA champion, said she hoped that along with all businesses, people and organisations doing it tough through the coronavirus pandemic, women's football would emerge in reasonable shape.
"We hope we can pick up and when this is done we can start building up again and get it back to where it was, and continue to grow again," she said.
Phillips was speaking to promote her role as an ambassador for Melbourne Legacy's recently completed Legacy Week, which supports the families of defence force members.
The 35-year-old helped take Legacy Week online for 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, making an at-home exercise video. One of Phillips' grandfathers served in the Australian Army and the other in the British Royal Navy.
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