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Logo, mini-draft on table

Date

Jon Pierik and Caroline Wilson

An in-season mini-draft, a ban on top clubs poaching free agents and the possible sale of the AFL logo on the front of player jumpers were options discussed in a bid to ease the gap between the AFL's rich and poor.

It also emerged in a crucial meeting between club presidents and chief executives and the AFL executive on Wednesday that the league acknowledged it needed an additional $15 million to $18 million to be injected in disequal funding to help struggling clubs.

The AFL had announced last year it would spend $144 million on equal and disequal funding in 2012-16. This included $85 million in disequal (allocated) and disequal (not allocated) funding.

The Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Melbourne, St Kilda, Richmond, Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney had been the major beneficiaries of disequal funding.

While clubs were delighted at Etihad Stadium by the open approach of their rivals, some reported the disequalisation debate was still a fight between those advocating the exploration of new revenues, predominantly the rich teams, and others who want a redistribution of wealth, including a greater percentage of gate receipts.

Amid concerns that football-department spending was escalating at an uncontrollable 8 per cent a year, Collingwood proposed two ideas to help secure the additional $18 million.

These were to increase the cost of AFL memberships, as opposed to individual club memberships. The added money would be distributed to the poorer clubs.

The Magpies also believe there is merit in allowing clubs to replace the AFL logo on the front of player guernseys with sponsorship. This money would be pooled, and also distributed to poorer clubs.

However, under a proposal by the West Coast Eagles, the Magpies could take a hit. In a bid to help even on-field fortunes, the Eagles have suggested banning teams that finish in the top four from being able to participate in free agency in that same season.

Under this model, the Magpies would not have secured former Eagle Quinten Lynch last season.

Teams that finish in the bottom four would have unlimited access to free agents.

While Magpies president Eddie McGuire declared his ''faith in the game was restored'' through the openness of the meeting, it didn't stop him from reiterating his stance that the Swans' cost-of-living allowance be axed. However, he was told that was not up for discussion at the meeting.

AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick praised McGuire's input.

There was also a discussion about introducing an in-season mini-draft, which could allow teams struggling on the field to top up their list, possibly via the VFL.

''That was one of the things that was floated but nothing was debated to a point where you got a sense that this was what we were going to do or not,'' Cats president Colin Carter said.

There was overwhelming support for all clubs to have the capacity to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the minimum spend is 95 per cent, up from 92.5 per cent.

''I think that would be one of the aspirations that would make a big difference. When teams can't do that, it unbalances the competition,'' Carter said.

McGuire said he ''didn't think'' a cap on football-department spending would be introduced, a suggestion several clubs have long taken umbrage with. There is about a $5 million gap between the spend in this area of the top and bottom clubs.

Clubs agreed that the draft and salary cap were sacrosanct.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said recommendations would be put to club presidents in September.

15 comments

  • What a mess. Why introduce two newly AFL funded clubs if the rest of the league has to suffer? You'll need to change the name from free agent to kinda free agent too.
    If Brisbane make top four why shouldn't they be allowed access to free agents?

    Commenter
    PeeRod
    Date and time
    March 21, 2013, 8:54AM
    • The biggest hurdle for clubs in Melbourne is that there are too many for the number of people living in Melbounre that follow footy. The only way it ever get close to being equal, is when several clubs merge. North Melbourne and Melbourne should merge and become the Melbourne Kangaroos. They will then have at least 30K members and when it is snow season, the old north supporters will still attend the games. Saints can merge. with Richmond and become the ultimate under achieving club. The doggies can merge with Geelong and become the Geelong cats. (who will actually miss the doggies?). That will allow the Bombers, Pies, Blues and Hawks to go about their business as usual.

      Commenter
      go bombers
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 9:33AM
      • Flippancy aside, the underlying principle behind 'Bombers' suggestion is sound. The fact is... we have at least 2 more clubs than is viable in Melbourne.
        I'm not going to speculate on who should go and who should merge but it's not going to get any easier for Footscray or North Melbourne in the coming years. Even if they became regular finals contenders and their membership increased by 50% they would still struugle to break even, let alone sustain financial viability.
        Why don't we face facts and stop flogging these dead horses?

        Commenter
        Panther
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 10:11AM
      • @panther Spot on there are too many clubs in victoria. My explanations were a bit flippent and hopefully aren't taken too seriously by most. There is no way North, Bulldogs and Melbourne will continue to exist. They will either need to relocate ( Tasmania would be good for one team) or merge.

        Commenter
        go bombers
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 11:06AM
      • @Panther, North Melbourne's membership has increased by 50% over the last 6 years and they have made profits in 5/6 of those years. What is the problem?

        Commenter
        Justin
        Location
        NM
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 11:45AM
      • The problem Justin, is that you are now at the peak of your performance and yet barely surviving. One slip-up my friend and you are gone. Trouble is, you cannot (or will not) accept the reality of the situation. Do you want to become another Fitzroy? If I were you I'd start looking at any opportunity to ensure my blue and white stripes survive.... oh hang on, you had that oportunity and knocked it back didn't you.

        Commenter
        Panther
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 12:39PM
      • if the afl wants to squeeze $$ out the broadcast rights then it needs a certain number of teams to do so, just getting rid of teams actually may hurt the whole. Having a sporting presence in growth corridors of the country (such as western Sydney and Melbourne) is also a necessity for a healthy league so if the AFL needs to subsidize that then they should, isnt that part of their custodianship of the AFL brand?.....

        Commenter
        SW
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 2:04PM
      • Panther in five years time how much of North Melbourne would have been up at the Gold Coast?
        Wait let me guess...loads and loads. Like, the guersey and stuff.

        Commenter
        Brad
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 2:33PM
      • Richmond have 49,000 Members already, and will come close to 60,000 this season. Crowds like 45,000 at home to Fremantle last season makes your suggesting of a merger look quite pitiful

        Commenter
        Mick
        Location
        Mornington
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 3:12PM
    • If free agency is really going to work, clubs need to be able to trade players for cash. Right now players can hold clubs to ransom and then leave a club if their demands are not met with the club receiving very little in return. At least this way the poorer clubs can reap some financial reward in the case they lose one of their better players.

      Commenter
      Brad
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 9:54AM

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