Tayla Harris is the most marketable player in the AFLW but the Blues have their concerns. Will a looming pay stoush leave her looking for a new home?
Tayla Harris is the most marketable player in the AFLW but the Blues have their concerns. Will a looming pay stoush leave her looking for a new home?

Carlton baulks at Harris’ $150k pay request

A pay stoush between Tayla Harris and Carlton could lead to the AFLW pin-up player looking for a new club.

Harris is asking for about $150,000 to play in the 2022 season, which would make her one of the highest-paid players in the sport.

She is a Tier 2 player which means she is paid about $25,000 to play football and the remainder would come from marketing and employment roles at the club.

Harris, 24, was believed to have earned about $80,000 this year, and the Blues are baulking at her new asking price.

Separately, the Blues are also privately questioning her dedication to football and whether she is a good fit for the team.

 

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Carlton’s Tayla Harris is asking for about $150,000 to play in 2022. Picture: Michael Klein.
Carlton’s Tayla Harris is asking for about $150,000 to play in 2022. Picture: Michael Klein.

Coming off her worst season as a player - she finished outside the top 15 in the club best-and-fairest - the Blues were disappointed with her standards in preparation and commitment.

At one session during the past season, Harris walked off the training track - without telling any of her coaches - to post on her Instagram page.

That act drew the ire of her teammates.

She did not play the next game. The club listed her as "managed''.

She was also late to several training sessions and arrived at the start of pre-season unfit.

Harris' manager Alex Saundry rejected the suggestion Harris was unprofessional in 2021 and said her star client wanted to stay at Carlton.

"She absolutely wants to be at Carlton, she remains 100 per cent committed to Carlton and I'm prepared for pretty robust dialogue between myself and the club over the next two to three weeks," Saundry said.

"We have started negotiations.''

She added: "I think she's worth a significant amount. The commitment to Carlton and what she's done over the past two years for the game locally, nationally and internationally carries a lot of weight.

"Has she carried that weight (this year)? No. Does she rely on her team around her? Yes, to help her through that.

"I think she's worth a hell of a lot, she's worth over six figures to the game, absolutely.''

 

It is an intriguing situation developing.

The charismatic and highly recognisable Harris wants to be paid for use of her image and IP.

While the Blues want her to play good football first and be committed to the program and team ethos.

The commentary around Harris is out of Carlton's control.

During Sunday's telecast of the Carlton v Essendon game, the Channel 7 cameras zoomed in on Harris in the grandstand.

There is AFLW superstar, said commentator Luke Darcy.

If you didn't watch AFLW games and only listened to and watched the marketing of pin-up girl Harris, you'd think she was the best player in the women's game.

She's far from it, at least after the 2021 season.

She averaged one contested mark a game and six disposals. She kicked four goals for the season. And, again, finished outside the top 15 in the best and fairest in a team which didn't play finals.

Saundry conceded COVID lockdown last year affected Harris' mentality and affected her preparation because she couldn't box, nor could she fulfil her marketing and appearance commitments.

"She didn't come in at the level of fitness she normally comes in on," Saundry said.

"Therefore, she was unable to live up to her standards.

"She self reflects, she knows she didn't have a great year. She's not naive to that at all and neither is Carlton. We're keen to move past it and put it behind us really

"She's a three-time leading goalkicker and four-time All Australian player and when she's leading the goalkicking and when she's All Australian they make finals.''

Harris couldn’t box last year due to the COVID pandemic. Picture: Scott Barbour
Harris couldn’t box last year due to the COVID pandemic. Picture: Scott Barbour

 

Harris gets a selfie with fans at the unveiling of a prototype statue that will be made to recognise her achievements in women's football. Picture: David Crosling
Harris gets a selfie with fans at the unveiling of a prototype statue that will be made to recognise her achievements in women's football. Picture: David Crosling

Harris, who has a statue at Federation Square, is also part of a documentary being filmed about her career this year.

The blonde key forward was made famous by The Kick photograph.

Saundry said Harris could manage her extensive marketing world and football, but COVID hurt her ahead of the 2021 season.

"Tayla is better when she has multiple things on and has a very structured week and during COVID she didn't have that,'' she said.

"So, when you're going from photo shoots, media appearances and jam-packed weeks to nothing and being restricted to staying indoors, it absolutely has an impact on your purpose in what you do.

"In terms of the football season, I don't think she struggles to prioritise.

"It definitely had an impact on her mental state when you're not performing as you want to and the way everyone expects them to perform.

"But if anyone with that calibre of attention, she's the one who creates click bait, she's got the image, she's the biggest player in the game, so if she's had an off game she's a target straight away.

"You'd agree she's the biggest name in the game and she can't be adequately compensated financially for what she does in terms of use of image for that club, and she's requested at every sponsorship event …. and they can't adequately pay her.

"If you discount this season, she's had some really cracking seasons.''

Carlton chief executive Cain Liddle was contacted for comment.

Originally published as Carlton baulks at Harris' $150k pay demands



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