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AFL, power clubs ready for showdown over equalisation

AFL equalisation.

AFL equalisation. Photo: Mick Connolly

A showdown is looming on Thursday with the AFL and its most powerful clubs at loggerheads as Andrew Demetriou and his team strive to push through a series of new Robin Hood-style taxes in a bid to reshape the competition.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, who last week angrily refused to sign off on a number of new equalisation principles, is leading the charge against a tax on club revenues with several other clubs confirming staff will lose their jobs next season with overseas camps and study opportunities abandoned once the AFL places a cap upon football department spending.

The yet-to-be-rolled out equalisation measures seem likely to include:

■A 50¢ in the dollar tax on clubs breaking the new football department spending cap.

■The rapid phasing out of Sydney's cost-of-living allowance.

■The removal of the playing veterans' allowance - a move which would have stripped $1 million from Geelong's salary cap last season.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire is leading the charge against a tax on club revenues.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire is leading the charge against a tax on club revenues. Photo: Getty Images

■Another significant pay increase across the board for players.

■A tax on the wealthier club revenues, which would hit hard on clubs such as Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast.

■An AFL undertaking not to burden the other 16 clubs in any funding increase to GWS and the Gold Coast.

■The early purchase of Etihad Stadium to lift that financial burden from the Bulldogs, St Kilda and North Melbourne.

Demetriou conceded late on Tuesday that the AFL faced a tough task in its bid to sign off on the series of equalisation principles at Thursday's last-ditch attempt to seek some resolution before next week's Adelaide season launch meeting with all 18 clubs. It is understood that the league had believed it had been close to reaching a resolution before last week's flare-up.

''The meeting was as robust as others I've been involved in, but I wouldn't say it was over the top,'' Demetriou said. ''It probably got a bit heated here and there … It's one of the most significant and important issues facing the industry.

''It's not easy. It's complex and it's challenging, but we need to achieve uncertainty of outcome. As you head more and more down that path towards an outcome the actual detail becomes more challenging.''

Under the proposed socialistic measures, Fairfax Media understands the AFL has proposed to tax clubs 50¢ out of every dollar spent over the football department spending ceiling, which on current figures would cost Collingwood and West Coast between $750,000 to $1.25 million respectively depending on whether the cap was set at $20 million or $21 million.

But it has been the proposed tax on overall club revenues which has angered the Magpies. McGuire's Collingwood is one of five clubs represented on the AFL's working party on equalisation. At least four clubs - the Magpies, Hawthorn, West Coast and Essendon - are becoming increasingly concerned at the AFL's radical plans to improve the poorer, less successful clubs.

Last week's meeting also broke up with several parties increasingly frustrated at the lack of detail. When asked why clubs - including those represented on the working party - had been kept in the dark regarding the costings of the equalisation proposals, Demetriou said significant detail would be unveiled on Thursday.

''We might not reach the final numbers on Thursday,'' he said. ''But the aim is to sign off on a series of principles which we hope to take to all the clubs next week. We just want, as an executive, to take to all the club presidents and chief executives a position but the final numbers will be up to the commission.''

The veterans' allowance sees an additional $118,000 per 10-year, one-club player placed into a club's salary cap. Geelong had nine veterans last season and will field six this year following the departures of Joel Corey, Paul Chapman and Josh Hunt.

But the AFL Players Association is to negotiate an across-the-board increase in total player payments as part of a mid-year collective bargaining agreement review.

While Sydney looks certain to lose its cost-of-living allowance despite commissioning a paper on the issue, its cross-city rivals the Giants will continue to boast a higher salary cap based on its expansion status.

13 comments so far

  • these struggling clubs need to bite the bullet.

    Seriously as sad as it was to see Fitzroy go and merge with Brisbane, the supporters got 3 flags out of it in the following 10 years.

    And whilst it took a while, Souths eventually got a flag out of the move to Sydney.

    Both interstate clubs do a pretty good job in looking after their Melbourne based supporters as well.

    Commenter
    Barney
    Date and time
    February 26, 2014, 10:33AM
    • Barney, as a life-long, devoted Saints supporter, I find what you say very hard to take....but what you say makes sense.

      Commenter
      Sad but true
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 26, 2014, 4:29PM
    • You're kidding aren't you? The majority were calling for Port Adelaide to fold or merge 12 months ago, which would've wiped out a 150+ year old club. The cyclical nature of the league means all clubs will go through a period of being down. We're going through a period where clubs are becoming more professional and setting up their business models to be able to financially withstand these downward cycles. While that's happening, the league is doing the right thing and supporting these clubs to get through tougher periods. Would be a shame for any club to fold, let alone any of the older or traditional clubs. One of the strengths of the AFL is its stability. Calling for clubs' heads is a stupid, reactionary measure that would only weaken the game.

      Commenter
      Ash
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      February 28, 2014, 10:12AM
    • There is a difference Port was being poorly managed. Also although I am no SA football expert, I doubt the "Power" is viewed as a 150 year tradition. The Port "Magpies" rather.

      The Saints, Dogs, Dees, North have been struggling for decades now. Tradition needs to be fostered, I agree but they also need to face up to the realities of simply needing more fans.

      Relocation provides that. Either permantly(like the Swans, Lions*(although Brisbane has some issues)) or partly as Hawthorn have done so successfully in Tassie.

      Sydney in particular I think should be commended in how they embrace their Souths heritage.
      (love them/ hate them for other things sure...but this I think is impressive)

      If one of the struggling Melbourne teams had of moved interstate, still locked in much of their identity, despite the postcode change there would be a hellava lot more to hope for. And opportunties IMO exist for it still. (North Perth needs a side or merge with West Syd to get rid of the stupid Giants moniker)

      I mean unless you want to eventually see one of these clubs die off? Happened in other Australian sports as well.

      If you put one of the senior lists of Melbourne/StKilda/North or Footscray in with the GWS Giants they would go a long way to winning the flag in the next two years.

      Commenter
      Barney
      Date and time
      March 03, 2014, 11:19AM
  • I don't know about the tax although it could stop clubs that will make big profits from setting up business's (online media channels, overseas recruiters ie paid family holidays) to guarantee loyal players get paid career's afterwards, but the cap on football dept spend sounds like a good idea so does paying out Etihad and stopping other special payments ie. Veterans,COLA, it's a tricky one where do you stop.

    Commenter
    Not sure
    Location
    something has to give
    Date and time
    February 26, 2014, 11:30AM
    • Is it time for the richer clubs to form their own league? - it's happened before when 8 clubs broke away from the VFA to form the VFL. A 12 team NFL would be a good idea.

      Commenter
      kcabotkcab
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      February 26, 2014, 1:25PM
      • Is this realistic?

        I mean, can you dictate that much, how clubs can spend their money?

        Commenter
        Christos
        Date and time
        February 26, 2014, 1:45PM
        • Form a "richer club league" ? Sure, let's do that.

          Then the Victorian clubs can break away from THAT league to form a more exclusive club, and eliminate the hassles of travelling..

          Then Essendon and Collingwood can break away AGAIN, and only play each other, so that every game can be an "ANZAC classic.

          Finally, Collingwood can just set up it's own intra-club league; it will still get about 50,000 people turning up, and which one of their supporters could turn down the chance of a sure fire Collingwood win every week ?

          Commenter
          Keep slicing the pie more thinly
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          February 26, 2014, 4:36PM
          • Almost hilarious that some people still think that the "clubs" have any rights at all.

            They are all just FRANCHISES granted a licence by the AFL to field a team in the massive money-making industry that the AFL is now, and they do what they are told.

            The AFL own ALL the trademarks down to the numbers on the back of their jumpers, the clubs own basically nothing and just function to hire more staff and spend the continuously increasing amount of money they AFL hands out to them each and every season.

            My club won its last Premiership in 1980 with about 10 staff on the payroll, it is now approaching 100 full-time paid staff and is nowhere near as successful - but they have to get rid of the cash somewhere.......

            Commenter
            DC
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            February 26, 2014, 5:04PM
            • Hey Demetriou if they fold they fold because they have NO SUPPORTER BASE. I don't want want my membership dollars being spent on propping up Melbourne, North Melbourne St Kilda or the Western Bulldogs.

              Commenter
              Geoff
              Date and time
              February 26, 2014, 5:24PM

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