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