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Only 5 clubs profit without pokies

Illustration: Mick Connolly

Illustration: Mick Connolly

Only five AFL clubs made a profit in 2013 without the assistance of poker machines, according to figures presented to the clubs by the AFL.

And remarkably, one of the clubs that made a pokies-free profit was North Melbourne, which made a decision to avoid poker machines from its business model, and is among the smallest clubs for revenue.

The five clubs that made a profit without non-football revenue - almost all of which is from poker machine venues - were Collingwood, Richmond, West Coast, Fremantle and North Melbourne. The Kangaroos are the clear outlier from that group of five and, according to the club, made a profit of $1.3 million in 2013 as a result of running a very low-cost operation.

Even Hawthorn, the 2013 premier  and one of the game’s most financially robust clubs, had a profit that was assisted by pokie earnings. The Hawks made a healthy profit of $3.1 million in 2013, but they are understood to have earned more than $4 million from their lucrative Waverley Gardens gaming venue, and have plans to earn more from their new Caroline Springs venue.

Geelong, another fiscally strong club that has excelled at all levels, confirmed to Fairfax Media that it would not have been profitable in 2013 without poker machine earnings. The Cats made a net profit of $1.2 million last year.

Carlton earned profits of about $2.7 million from its poker machine operations - spearheaded by benefactor and pokies magnate Bruce Mathieson - which helped it to record a profit of $528,095.

While the fact that even strong clubs such as Hawthorn, Geelong and Carlton were not profitable without gaming assistance, this can be misleading, because clubs say they spend according to revenue generated. Hawthorn is spending heavily in the knowledge that it has a buffer from poker machines. The Hawks and Cats could simply decrease their spending without the pokies profits.

Clubs were presented with the fact that only five had made money from conventional football incomes - read, without pokies - at a recent meeting of chief executives. 

The presentation, by the AFL’s chief financial officer Ian Anderson, was viewed by some club officials as a warning about escalating costs and the precarious financial position of the clubs.

Collingwood made a massive operating profit of $5.22 million in 2013 (plus one-off grants of $11.15 million for its facility for a overall profit of $16.375 million), while Richmond did extraordinary well for a club without significant poker machine revenues, the Tigers making $3.3 million on the back of a hefty membership, gate receipts and the team’s improvement to play finals.

West Coast and Fremantle do not have poker machines and still managed healthy profits, with the Eagles reaping $4.1 million.

But the major surprise from the survey of clubs’ profitably and gaming operations are the Kangaroos, whose chief executive Carl Dilena said the club had run a lean operation that enabled it to make a profit of about $1.3 million.

The club did well from its two home games in Hobart, which industry sources suggested were underwritten to the tune of $500,000 a game, with the club also having close to 4000 Tasmanian members. Dilena said  the Roos, who ranked in the bottom two for football department spending in 2013, hoped to increase their spending on players to 100 per cent of the salary cap this year via a pre-payment - paying players in advance for 2015 to reach the limit this year.

3 comments so far

  • I am sure some of these more profitable clubs will at some stage or another will start diversifying more and more and making less and less money from football. Take Collingwood for example. A $16m profit this year, what do they do with it?? They have a salary cap on the playing group and spending limit on the football department, so no doubt they will find more and more ways to spend their money and spread their risk over a much larger area. If all goes well though their profits from these other interests/developments will mean they start making more and more and more money and eventually you would have to imagine that football could almost become a sideline business.

    West Coast & Freo might not be in such a favourable position to diversify however as they pay such large chunks of money to the WAFC, but I have heard that the Eagles are looking at spending money outside of football on other business/interests to try and garner a greater income overall.

    As much as I don't like or believe pokies are healthy in any way, it is obvious some clubs rely so heavily on them which is disappointing. But any football club that thinks they can and will remain relevant by having a footy team and pokies in 50 years time will be kidding themselves. As competition grows and spending grows, they will all need to diversify. The strong ones will be the ones that do it first.

    Date and time
    March 26, 2014, 12:10PM
    • Why cant WAFL clubs have pokies to help them survive?

      Its ok for the AFL, NRL and the Casino's to run them, but suddenly its frowned upon if a lower ranked sporting club wants to have them. The double standards in Australia are laughable.
      When the subject is raised here about the WAFL & Pokies, its suddenly a moral issue. Yet the people carrying on go to the casino in the weekend, after a day gambling at the races. What a bloody joke.
      I see nothing wrong with going to the footy at Swan Districts, going up to the bar for a few innocent games on the pokies. Its always been the aussie way having a flutter. Even if its 2 flys climbing up a wall. We over-analyse this issue too much. People who cant handle their gambling, shouldn't stop others from having some fun. Bloody Fun Police.

      Ride on
      Bassendean WA
      Date and time
      March 26, 2014, 1:28PM
      • How are clubs financial positions precarious? Spend less, it's simple. The AFL is an extremely greedy machine, full of pigs with their snouts in the trough. Maybe the competition needs a bit less Ferrari and a bit more Fairlane.

        Date and time
        March 26, 2014, 6:29PM

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        GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
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        STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
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        SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
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        HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
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        WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
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        COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
        WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
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        FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
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        CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
        GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
        ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
        PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
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        GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
        NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
        STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
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        GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
        WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
        NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
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        COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
        STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
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        ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
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        RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
        GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
        WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
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        FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
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        SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
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        HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
        BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
        STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
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        SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
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        COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
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        RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
        GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
        WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
        MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
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        ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
        ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
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        PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
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        ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
        WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
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        GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
        HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
        BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
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        Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
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        GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
        GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
        COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
        SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
        FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
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        PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
        STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
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        CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
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        ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
        RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
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        COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
        SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
        CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
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        ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
        FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
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        ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
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        COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
        WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
        BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
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        GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
        STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
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        Round 20
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        SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
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        ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
        NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
        PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
        GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
        BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
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        WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
        FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
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        Round 21
        Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
        Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
        GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
        GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
        STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
        ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
        Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
        CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
        WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
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        Round 22
        Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
        Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
        HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
        NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
        ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
        GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
        Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
        STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
        FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
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        Round 23
        Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        RIC 108vs NTH 67 Report Stats
        Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
        GEE 119vs ADE 80 Report Stats
        BRI 130vs WBU 122 Report Stats
        PTA 122vs FRE 53 Report Stats
        HAW 113vs CAR 56 Report Stats
        SYD 127vs GCF 64 Report Stats
        WCE 125vs STK 30 Report Stats
        Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
        MEL 103vs GWS 77 Report Stats
        COL 92vs ESS 95 Report Stats
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        Round 24
        Fri, 11 SepTimes shown AEST
        WCE 96vs HAW 64 Report Stats
        Sat, 12 SepTimes shown AEST
        FRE 69vs SYD 60 Report Stats
        WBU 102vs ADE 109 Report Stats
        Sun, 13 SepTimes shown AEST
        RIC 88vs NTH 105 Report Stats
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        Round 25
        Fri, 18 SepTimes shown AEST
        HAW 135vs ADE 61 Report Stats
        Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
        SYD 51vs NTH 77 Report Report Stats
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        Round 26
        Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
        FRE 67vs HAW 94 Report Stats
        Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
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        Round 27
        Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
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        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Fremantle 22 17 5 0 118.73 68
        West Coast Eagles 22 16 5 1 148.22 66
        Hawthorn 22 16 6 0 158.40 64
        Sydney Swans 22 16 6 0 127.12 64
        Richmond 22 15 7 0 123.09 60
        Western Bulldogs 22 14 8 0 115.12 56
        Adelaide Crows 21 13 8 0 115.71 54
        North Melbourne 22 13 9 0 106.45 52
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