Port Adelaide chairman David Koch has added a fresh perspective to the equalisation debate, declaring "culture and passion" can win out when it comes to the less affluent clubs toppling the rich list on the field.
While admitting it was time for a "realistic discussion" about introducing a cap on football-department spending, Koch pointed to the Power's stunning elimination-final win over financial behemoth Collingwood last season as an example that it's not just dollars which shapes success.
"We are hit hard by just the amount spent. We increased our (football department spending) by something like $600,000 last year and we are still running 14th or 15th in terms of spend. We are reasonably happy with the level that we are at," Koch said on Friday.
"I think we showed last year that culture can overcome physical equipment or machinery and high-altitude (training) and closed gyms and all that sort of stuff.
"We are wise with our money – we have to be frugal with it – and we have got to get value for it. I think there is a law of diminishing terms, to use an economic terminology, that says you get beyond a certain level of football spending and you don't get the same value for your extra buck.
"I think a lot of clubs have to be aware of that. Play-offs last year, one of the poorest clubs (Power) against one of the richest ones (Magpies). Culture and passion won out against money."
The Power continues to invest in its football department and was boosted on Friday by announcing Energy Australia as a joint major sponsor in a two-year deal, with an option for a third. It's understood to be worth about $1 million, coming just a year after the rebuilding club inked a lucrative deal with carmaker, Renault.
Under Koch and chief executive Keith Thomas, the Power has begun to vigorously sell the club as a national brand as it looks to again trade in the black. That is still some time away but will also be aided by shifting home matches to a revamped Adelaide Oval from this season.
Geelong chief executive Brian Cook this week emerged as a key figure in the push to introduce a cap on football-department spending, while AFL great Leigh Matthews has suggested a $10 million ceiling, excluding player payments, in a bid to curb football's version of an arms race.
"I think there needs to be a discussion about it and a realistic discussion about it. Otherwise, you can't criticise equalisation and then have this arm's race for football spending, because the smaller clubs are just going to fall off the radar," Koch said.
"If we have this philosophy that on any given Saturday or in any given game every team is in with a chance, then that logic says you have got to have equalisation and you have got to have a sensible range in terms of expenditure in the footy department."
Koch said one of his major tasks early in the new year would be "managing expectations" after the Power vaulted from 14th to fifth last season using coach Ken Hinkley's Geelong-type game plan.
"We have got a harder draw, we didn't have any injuries last year, we still have an incredibly young team, still the third youngest," he said.