Finance protests rejected
THE AFL has conceded it failed to adequately communicate hefty and unexpected cost increases that have left several clubs angry as they struggle to meet their budgets for the 2012 season.
But a protest led by Carlton and supported by some of the stronger clubs at yesterday's meeting of the 18 chief executives proved futile, with league CEO Andrew Demetriou and his team insisting clubs would have to work harder to make ends meet.
The relatively lacklustre debate left clubs frustrated but resigned to absorbing the cost of more than $100,000 each - covering a range of areas including the increased cost of footballs, vision of games from behind goals, talent development and various flow-on demands from the collective bargaining agreement.
The view of clubs at yesterday's talks was that the expected bonanza from the $1.125 billion five-year broadcast agreement had been severely mitigated by the AFL's decision to pass on a number of new costs - several relating to the AFL's ambitious new media division. The Age revealed late last month that the clubs would push to have the AFL review the financial demands. The league conceded it should have ensured the clubs had been alerted to the increases - consisting of a number of items but adding up to six figures - in time to complete their 2012 budgets. While some increases were beyond the AFL's control, others, including each club being charged $20,000 for an iPhone app, were not passed on until February.
As reported by The Age, the single biggest increase concerned the talent pathway fee, which takes in centralised video coverage, a TAC Cup levy and the AFL draft combined. The AFL also demanded a fee increase from clubs that boasted match ball sponsorships.
AFL and club executives alike described yesterday's agenda as low key. It included a briefing from community engagement manager Jason Mifsud regarding the league's ambitious indigenous and multicultural programs, as well as a series of updates on the season so far. The over-riding sentiment from most who attended was that, despite last year's triumphant media deal, several clubs would struggle to make ends meet.