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. 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.