JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

AFL membership: The 'real' figures for your club

Membership details.

Membership details.

The West Coast Eagles netted close to $10 million more than all Victorian powers, bar Collingwood, on membership earnings, and had membership profits that were nearly seven times that of the Western Bulldogs in 2013.

AFL figures obtained by Fairfax Media show a massive gulf in membership earnings between the Perth clubs, Collingwood and the rest during 2013, while infant club Greater Western Sydney technically made a loss on membership of $400,000 as a result of extra "fan development" costs.

West Coast earned a staggering $16 million in net membership revenue (what clubs made once costs were subtracted) compared to Collingwood’s $10.4 million and the game’s rising financial power, Fremantle ($10.2 million). Adelaide ($7.6 million) and Geelong ($7.1 million) were fourth and fifth, ahead of closely bunched Victorian powers Hawthorn ($6.3 million), Richmond ($6.3 million), Essendon ($6.1 million) and Carlton ($6 million).

As the league finalises equalisation measures to assist the smaller clubs, the 2013 membership profit table shows a substantial gap between the highest-earning clubs – most of which have favourable stadium deals – and the likes of the Dogs, North Melbourne and Melbourne and the northern market teams.

The Bulldogs had the least membership earnings of all Victorian clubs ($2.3 million), just behind North ($2.6 million) and then Melbourne ($3 million). St Kilda fared better than those clubs, netting $4 million, but the Saints are understood to have had the least of those clubs in sponsorship dollars in 2013 – a fact that club officials concede was influenced by the raft of scandals the club endured in recent years.

West Coast’s membership earnings include an estimated 8000 on their waiting list for members, known as "In The Wings" members, who pay $65 to be on the waiting list and have first dibs on seats when members inform the club they will not attend a particular game. The $16 million figure also counts reserve seat income, with the vast majority of Eagles members buying seasonal reserve seats, boosting the club’s return at a limited capacity (44,000) Pattersons Stadium.

Collingwood’s membership earnings would be greater if the club included "walk-up" reserve seat sales – this would boost the Pies to about $13.5 million in earnings on membership/reserve seats and this does not include gate receipts, which are also a factor for most MCG tenants and clubs that play in blockbusters at the G.

There is a significant difference between membership numbers – in which Collingwood (68,955 game-day members) leads the big Victorian clubs, with Hawthorn (63,353 access memberships), Richmond (52,488) and Carlton (45,613) next, followed by Adelaide (44,436), West Coast (43,945), Essendon (42,614) – and what the various clubs earn from their members.

The Perth teams have a business model that reaps more from membership and reserve seats, due to the demand for a membership and seat often exceeding supply. Unlike the bigger Victorian clubs, they make virtually nothing from the casual walk-up fan – so their massive advantage in membership money is somewhat negated by the lack of gate receipts and "walk-up" reserve seats.

The only Victorian club with a genuine West Coast/Fremantle-style model is Geelong, which, as a result of its unique boutique stadium, earned more from membership/reserve seats than Essendon, Carlton, Hawthorn and Richmond. But the Cats do not attract as many walk-up fans as those clubs.

GWS chief executive David Matthews said the club earned a gross of about $800,000 from memberships in 2013 and spent $300,000 on membership costs, for a $500,000 net return, but the AFL figures allocated the new team’s additional expense of "fan development" and community engagement under membership costs, which resulted in the loss of $400,000 on membership. Matthews said the Giants could not sell the number of 11-game memberships of other clubs, because they played eight home games in Sydney and three in Canberra.

The Swans earned less than St Kilda on membership – $3.8 million in the year after a premiership, further evidence of the difficulties facing the AFL in the Sydney market.

The Gold Coast was 17th in membership earnings ($1 million), while in the financially troubled and struggling Brisbane Lions ($1.6 million) were well below even the small Victorian clubs. The Gold Coast had fewer members than GWS on raw numbers, but the far greater number of 11-game tickets and cost differences accounted for its better return.

Featured advertisers