AFL To Support Struggling Clubs
The AFL have announced that they will pour money into the football departments of struggling clubs as the gap between the haves and the have nots in the league widens.
Teams at the top of the ladder such as Collingwood and Geelong have massive football department budgets, while struggling teams such as Port Adelaide and Melbourne cannot afford to support their players off the field in the same way as the rich clubs can.
However rather than placing a salary cap on football department spending, the AFL will give handouts to struggling clubs.
“In terms of haves versus have nots, I think we’re certainly seeing the AFL ladder reflecting a clubs ability to spend within their football department like we have never seen before,” said AFL Players Association executive Ian Prendergast.
“You look at clubs like Richmond and Melbourne who have been through long-term rebuilding phases and now unfortunately it looks like Port Adelaide players are subject to a similar fate. It is concerning that those re-building phases are taking as long as they are.”
Port Adelaide, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, Carlton, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs received a combined $7.1 million in handouts from the AFL last season and after the signing of a new television rights deal, it is believed this amount will increase.
“We are looking at it – as part of the next five year distribution strategy – looking after the clubs who really need it most,” said AFL Operations Manager Adrian Anderson.
“Another big part of it is doing what we can to make sure we help those clubs that have fallen behind financially, so they can afford to spend their full salary cap, and they can afford to invest appropriately in their footy departments.”
Anderson also confirmed that there were ‘six or seven’ clubs who were in need of some sought of assistance from the AFL.
However he also said that football department spend was not the only factor in building success on the field and pointed to the Western Bulldogs achievement of making three successive preliminary finals (2008-10) as evidence that clubs do not need a massive budget to achieve success.
Not surprisingly the plan to prop up struggling clubs has been met with resistance from those clubs who have been thriving in the current environment.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said that while he believed in parity in the AFL, he did not think it would be achieved through handouts to struggling clubs.
“If you’ve got clubs who think the only way they can prosper is to meekly put their hands put and maybe get a few crumbs off the AFL – they’re never going fight their way to the top,” McGuire said.
“You’re never going to thrive and prosper being on the drip. You’ve got to enthuse people to break new ground.
“I’m for distributing the wealth to a degree, but not neutering teams who have had the audacity to stand up and find a model that works for them.”
Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett agreed, saying that the chance of a club rebounding financially through handouts was ‘very limited’.
“Half of them (AFL Clubs) will be receiving special assistance payments from the AFL in order to continue to operate or be more competitive. I’ve always argued that if 50 per cent of the clubs need financial support then you have a very real problem,” Kennett said.
“It’s not that many years ago that Hawthorn, Geelong and Collingwood almost bit the dust. Ian Dicker, Eddie McGuire and Frank Costa came in and started running the clubs from a financially commercial basis. Delivering premierships is our goal, but in order to compete for that you’ve got run the club as a business.
“Unfortunately many of those businesses have not been run successfully enough to be independent of the mother ship, which is the AFL, and now we’re in a situation where those clubs, in real terms, are under administration.”