When player payments are discounted, 17th placed Melbourne is spending a similar amount on its football department this season as the premiership favourite and top team Hawthorn.
AFL industry sources have confirmed that while the Demons are spending less than the Hawks overall on their football department - due to the top team's high player payments - the Dees are spending nearly the same amount as Hawthorn on what clubs call ''non-player spend'' in football.
Hawthorn is spending slightly more than $18million on its football department in 2013, but the bulk of that is on players. The hapless Demons are spending heavily on football staff - having wooed senior football staffers Neil Craig, David Misson and Todd Viney and recruiting manager Jason Taylor from rival clubs on significant salaries and having set up a sizeable coaching structure along the same lines as Collingwood.
Sources said that if the respective wages of Hawthorn's well-paid premiership coach, Alastair Clarkson, and his sacked counterpart Mark Neeld were subtracted from the comparison, the Demons might well be the higher spender in terms of football staff.
In assessing the disastrous season at Melbourne, the AFL has recognised that resources, staffing levels and facilities have not been an issue for the club.
Rather, the new AFL-backed chief executive, Peter Jackson, has taken the view that the football department was structurally flawed and that the club overall was top heavy with executives.
Jackson is adding a new head of football to the football department, but it has been made clear following the sacking of Neeld that there will be further cullings from the club and that a fair portion of the AFL's one-off emergency funding - expected to exceed $2million - will be used on payouts for terminated staff.
Neeld was among the lower-paid senior coaches, but the Demons have significant coaching and recruiting departments. Viney, who is contracted for next year, was general manager of player development and strategy and was involved in recruiting.
Craig, who has taken over from Neeld, was previously employed as head of sports performance on an estimated $400,000 and, in effect, was a senior executive in football. Josh Mahoney had been football manager but not the head of the football department.
The highly rated Misson, poached from St Kilda on what the industry speculates to be more than $300,000, has three full-time conditioning staff reporting to him, including a sport science co-ordinator and a training load analyst.
The coaching department had three line coaches - Jade Rawlings (defence), Brian Royal (midfield) and Leigh Brown (forwards) with a development coach working under each line coach, in the same system as Collingwood.
In recruiting, there were four full-time people in addition to Taylor, including pro-scout Kelly O'Donnell. Like most clubs, the Demons also have a list manager (Tim Harrington) who does contracting.
Hawthorn is among the higher spending football departments in the competition, though its overall $18million-plus is still well shy of what Collingwood and West Coast (both estimated close to $20million) are outlaying on their football departments this year.
Jackson has indicated that the Demons will revert to a more conventional structure, with key football staff reporting to the head of football, whoever that is, rather than the chief executive.