Source: The Herald Sun, 8 April, 1995, p.42-43


Money winners all round, but...

CLUBS' REVENUE AND SPENDING-BALL BY BALL



Interstate giants gobble up the football cake 
 
1995 PROFITS 
ADELAIDE    $2,334,489* 
BRISBANE   $90,082 
CARLTON   $60,398 
COLLINGWOOD $198,143 
FITZROY   $193,498 
FOOTSCRAY    $76,213 
GEELONG    $558,963 
HAWTHORN   $233,524 
MELBOURNE   $227,692 
NORTH MELB $29,573 
RICHMOND   $29,805 
ST KILDA      $4120 
WEST COAST $3,158,233* 
SYDNEY    not available 
 
The figures for Adelaide and West 
Coast are beforedistribution to 
SANFL and WAFC. Their net re- 
sults were (Adelaide) $466,898 
and (West Coast) $882,633. 
 
 
In financial terms, all the AFL's 
Victorian clubs were winners in 1994. 
All 11 posted positive financial re- 
sults, with combined operating pro- 
fits of $2,003,084. 
 
If it's not a first, it's a first for a long- 
 time, according to an AFL offi- 
cial. Yet, as always, there is another 
side to the coin. The big two of the 
AFL's interstate quartet-Adelaide 
and West Coast- each recorded 
operating profits significantly higher 
than the aggregate Victorian figure. 
 
Before payments to their parent 
bodies (South Australian National 
Football League and West Australian 
Football Commission), Adelaide's 
trading surplus for the year was 
$2,334,489; the West Coast figure an 
even healthier $3,158,233. 
 
The returns again expose the gulf in 
earning capacity and spending power 
between Adelaide and West Coast on 
the one hand and all Victorian clubs, 
Collingwood and Carlton included, 
on the other. 
 
Adelaide and West Coast generated 
income of about $10 million from 
traditional football sources-with 
 
Brisbane closing 
fast-while the 
incomes of the 
Victorian clubs 
ranged from $4.5 
million to Colling- 
wood's $11.79 mil- 
lion (the Colling- 
wood figure in- 
cluded an 
estimated $3 
million from its 
social club). 
 
St Kilda and 
Fitzroy are be- 
lieved to have 
been the strag- 
glers, with Rich- 
mond in the next 
bracket at $5.3 
million and Carl- 
ton at $7.6 million 
on the way to 
Collingwood's $9 
million from 
sources excluding 
its social club. 
 
The financial 
battle becomes 
tougher by the 
year, and the pressure has increased 
from within in 1995, with the AFL 
increasing the salary cap from $1.85 
million in 1994 to $2.3 million. 
 
The fundamental problem for Vic- 
torian clubs is that 11 of them are 
fighting for a finite number of suppor- 
ters and corporate dollars. 
 
In theory, the salary cap should 
ease the financial pressure, preven- 
ting the rich clubs from simply enter- 
ing the marketplace and paying 
available superstars their asking 
price. In practice, spending power 
remains critically important. Former 
Saint Tony Lockett and former Lion 
Paul Roos are in Sydney this year 
simply because of Sydney's much 
greater resources. 
 
Brisbane was able to commit huge 
money in the 1994 pre-season draft for 
Craig Lambert and to Andrew Gow- 
ers again this year, at the expense of 
Victorian clubs both times. 
 
While the spirit of drafting is to offer 
the lower clubs first call on the best 
available talent, it doesn't always 
work that way. Lockett and Roos 
were too expensive for Victorian 
clubs, while Mark Mark Fraser, who 
wanted out of Collingwood, wanted a 
guaranteed $300,000 for three years, 
way too high for the batlers. Essen- 
don got him. 
There is a subtle impact to the 
financial issue, too.  Life is far more 
comfortable for players, coaches and 
support staff at the richer clubs: more 
exotic fringe benefits, better facilities 
such as gymnasiums and swimming 
pools, more exciting training regimes, 
a higher standard of living all round. 
Established players rarely want to 
leave Carlton, Collingwood and 
Essendon. 
 
The financial struggle at club level 
is a paradox during what is seen as a 
period of expansion and consolida- 
tion for the AFL. 
 
The AFL as an industry is worth 
$140 million a year, and growing 
rapidly. The central administration 
generated nearly $57 million in 1994, 
with the 15 clubs adding $80 million 
from their own initiatives. 
 
The AFL improved its operating 
surplus by $5.3 million to $32.5 mil- 
lion in 1994, yet distributions to clubs 
were only mar- 
ginally better. 
The league has 
budgeted for a 
more modest im- 
provement this 
year, tipping a 
$2.8 million im- 
provement in its 
operating sur- 
plus. 
 
The problem for 
the clubs is the 
increasing de- 
mand on the cen- 
tral administra- 
tion in areas such 
as umpiring, 
promotion and 
development, and 
marketing. 
 
Despite en- 
couraging signs in 
Brisbane and 
Sydney, the up- 
heaval and re- 
structure in rugby 
league, and the 
likely super 
league will de- 
mand that the AFL invest significant- 
ly more dollars to promote the code in 
hostile territory. 
 
The extra game this year will help, 
but only cosmetically after Freman- 
tle's $4 million licence fee is absorbed. 
After all, the AFL's Sgures say it costs 
$27 a head to put on the show. Given 
that the adult daily admission charge 
is $11.50, it is amazing that so many 
people still ask the question: "Where 
does all the money go?" 
 
The squeeze is on at club level, with 
the more powerful clubs becoming 
increasingly restless about what they 
see as unreasonable restraints on 
their earning capacity and the broad 
equalisation principle. 
 
The one certainty is that the inter- 
state clubs will continue to exploit 
their earning power, with the inevit- 
able widening of the gap to their 
Victorian brothers. 
 
The result remains uncertain, but, 
when pressure continues to mount, 
something has to give at some stage.


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