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Poor clubs can't win flags, says Alan Richardson

Date

Caroline Wilson and Matt Murnane

On a day when St Kilda coach Alan Richardson said that the AFL's poorest clubs can play finals, maybe even contend for top four, but they can't win premierships, there appears no end in sight to the radical bid by the competition's chiefs to create a more even competition.

Five hours of talks and occasionally fiery debate broke up at AFL headquarters on Thursday with only marginal progress.

While the working party on equalisation has resolved to design a fairer salary cap and almost certainly remove Sydney's cost of living allowance along with the veterans' allowance, Collingwood and Hawthorn successfully continued their stand against the proposed tax on club revenue.

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou confirmed that the meeting had resolved in principle to design a salary cap on football department spending, although he refused to divulge the extent of that cap.

Fairfax Media understands clubs exceeding the AFL-imposed cap could be fined 50¢ for every dollar they spend over the cap.

''The meeting today was very robust, very productive, and I must say the clubs involved came very well prepared,'' Demetriou said. ''We will present to all 18 clubs next week but we all agreed there is more work to do.''

The clubs represented on the working party are Collingwood, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Richmond, the Western Bulldogs and West Coast.

Non-Victorian chief executives Keith Thomas (Port) and Trevor Nisbett (West Coast) attended the lengthy meeting with pressure mounting on the AFL to provide more funding for the poorer clubs.

Those clubs requiring additional help across the competition remained taken aback by what they regarded as an about-face by Collingwood and to a lesser extent Hawthorn and West Coast over the wealthier clubs' stand on the tax on revenue.

It is understood the AFL is working on a revenue tax to be phased in over a number of years following strong protests by the Magpies, who have pointed to their significant long-term investment in the club's revamped facility.

While certain salary cap anomalies will be stripped from the AFL landscape, the clubs have backed the continuance of the father-son rule under its recently introduced bidding system.

Earlier, Richardson had highlighted the need to bridge the gap between the richest and poorest clubs in football department spending, and the importance of having all clubs in a position to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap in the future.

Richardson's coaching resume includes stints at ''wealthy'' clubs such as Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon, as well as the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and now St Kilda, who reported an operating loss of nearly $2 million in its last financial year.

He was considered key to the Power's resurgence from off and on-field basket case to finals contender last season, and Richardson said the club's momentous rise was proof of how far clubs could go, despite spending restraints, once they appointed the right people.

However, it is Richardson's view that clubs in a weaker financial position compared to their rivals were not going to go ''all the way'' until there was a more even playing field in the funds each club could allocate to its core business - football.

''Clearly the correlation between ultimately winning [a premiership] and spend is fairly significant,'' Richardson said on Thursday.

''There's no hiding from that. The reality is, in my time at Port Adelaide last year - not a big spending club - you can certainly be thereabouts. I don't subscribe to the fact [that], if you don't have the spend, you're going to finish on the bottom of the ladder. And I don't think anyone is saying that.

''But, in terms of ultimately winning [a premiership] and being able to make sure you've got everything covered to give yourself the best chance possible - when you've got really talented players [from] the draft ... then I think you do need to get it as even as possible.

Clubs to have won a premiership in the last five years - Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney and Collingwood - are all considered to be in a healthy financial position.

42 comments so far

  • Well, one bounce differently in 2010 and the Saints would have been winners with Ross Lyon still coaching the Saints, right Alan? Nevertheless the EPL/NFL analogy is really interesting.

    Commenter
    John
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    February 27, 2014, 4:58PM
    • What is being overlooked is that it is no longer feasible to have 9 teams in Melbourne.

      In the USA with a population of more than 320 million the NFL has 32 teams, with only New York City and San Francisco / Oakland areas having 2 teams.

      Compare that to Melbourne with a population of approximately 4.5 million tryung to sustain 9 teams - it just doesn't work.

      Commenter
      Culler
      Date and time
      February 27, 2014, 5:41PM
      • What's not working? If the Saints, Bulldogs and North had better stadium deals they would all be in much sounder positions financially. Saints make as much from one game in NZ as 8 Etihad games- madness. There seems to be plenty of money in the pot, huge sums being wasted on propping up the Northern states clubs.

        Commenter
        Wal
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 5:53PM
      • Agreed, s let just get rid of drains on compatishon like North melbourne

        Commenter
        Bomber
        Location
        Promised Land
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 6:02PM
      • "it just doesnt work"

        How long have there been 9+ teams in Melbourne? Clearly it DOES work.

        Commenter
        Marcus
        Location
        Brunswick
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 6:08PM
      • I see your point. Sadly the ideal time to have had say 2 Teams per State would have been when the old VFA first was formed. Not viable then due to travel issues. The VFA later some went to start VFL and the tribal 12 teams took of. Makes me laugh when I see people say cut back teams. Some say Melbourne. Now I support Carlton and will always say Melbourne must always be. Look stupid having a National comp without Melbourne. In time clubs may merge however they Di a mighty job keeping going in Victoria. You can't compare AFL with Gridiron. The AFL will survive and work things out its own way. Even the poorer clubs are growing members. Says a lot for Victorias love of Aussie Rules

        Commenter
        BlueGirl
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 6:55PM
      • @Marcus - if it does work then why are Melbourne, Bulldogs, North, St Kilda etc always crying poor and why do they want the other well-managed clubs to give them some of their hard earned revenue? Clearly IT DOESN'T WORK

        @WAL - whose fault is it that some clubs AGREED to poor stadium deals?
        Instead of ripping money out of well run clubs, vote out the boards who agreed to the deals and replace them with more business oriented candidates
        And if St Kilda make so much money out of New Zealand, then re-locate them to play all their home games there.
        Then they'll be so flush with funds they can have some of their money taken off them and given to the other clubs.

        As we have experienced recently with the announced departures of the car companies, you don't just throw more money into a black hole, and that's what the AFL needs to finally admit.

        If the local corner store finds it hard to survive they don't just ring up Coles or Woolworths and ask for a handout - they go out of business.

        Commenter
        vlad
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 7:53PM
      • I didn't realize AFL clubs in Australia were in competition with NFL clubs in America.

        Commenter
        Leigh
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 8:32PM
      • You've hit the nail right on the head. Melbourne 4.5m people - 9 teams. Perth 1.9m people - 2 teams. The numbers tell you one of the Melbourne teams should be relocated to Perth. At the moment Perth doesn't have a rugby league team and it's got a dud soccer team and a dud rugby union team so it's tailor made for a third AFL team. The team would go from being a poor Melbourne team to a wealthy WA team. Problem solved . And there is one less team in Melbourne fighting for the sponsorship dollar.

        Commenter
        Phil
        Location
        Nullagine
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 9:08PM
      • Looks like you've had a drain on your brain bomber!!! How do you spell compETITION! Yeah and your club has been a model of propriety. North don't have a good stadium deal. It's time for the AFL to buy Etihad and then North, Kangas and Bulldogs will be even with the rest. This should be the first priority of the AFL in their equalisation policy

        Commenter
        Kanga
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        February 27, 2014, 9:31PM

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