AFL teams compete on a significantly less even playing field than their American counterparts, according to research supplied to clubs last month.
The league has ranked its ''degree of equalisation'' as low to medium, compared with the more highly even National Football League and medium level National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.
The AFL is undertaking a more thorough examination of the other sports leagues - which also aim for parity and have recently reached new collective bargaining agreements - as part of its planned revamp of its equalisation policy.
Clubs have been asked to submit their thoughts and ideas on potential improvements to the AFL's policy by next week, ahead of a meeting of club chief executives, presidents and the league on the eve of the season.
The AFL's deputy chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, said on Thursday the league was open to ideas on how to close the widening gap between the rich and poor clubs, which research has linked to on-field performance and finals appearances.
In a discussion paper sent to the clubs the league pitched several ideas for consideration - including a ''luxury'' tax applied when clubs' non-player football spending exceeds a certain amount, shared gate receipts and and an increased pool of centralised money to be distributed to struggling clubs.
''Equalisation is a real challenge for us, in terms of helping clubs with stadium disadvantages and other disadvantages compete,'' McLachlan said on SEN, following Thursday's report in Fairfax Media.
He said more even stadium deals would help ease many of the problems, and all clubs agreed a stronger equalisation policy was required.
''We think there are a range of solutions … but I think we're very open to how we might solve it. I don't think we've got any fixed views at the moment.''
The AFL's research indicates the NFL is the most highly equalised of the three comparable American leagues, with its policy featuring a hard salary cap, equal payments from the hefty television rights and strong local revenue sharings such as gate receipts and sponsorship.
The NFL model features a new player payment subsidy funded by the league and the 15 richest clubs.
Major League Baseball has no salary cap but applies a luxury tax to player payments that exceed a certain level, starting at 22.2 per cent and increasing to 40 per cent. The NBA has a ''soft'' salary cap, with payments exceeding $70 million subject to a luxury tax.
In 2012-13, the tax rate will range from 125 to 325 per cent for teams more than $15 million over the limit.
All three leagues share more funds from greater centralised local revenue pools than the AFL, which currently applies a $2 levy to adult tickets but allows clubs to retain all other local revenues.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, whose club ranks in the strongest four and made a $7.835 million for 2012, said two simple keys to an even playing field remained the draft and salary cap.
''The AFL, as I've said the last couple of days, have now got to start focusing on delivering to the shareholders,'' McGuire said on Triple M. ''That is better returns, better dividends, help the clubs if need be.''
Figures included in the paper show the richest four clubs have generated an average $10.7 million a year of club-sourced revenue since 2004, more than $6 million above the bottom four clubs and well clear of the $7.4 million league average.
The AFL's research has also noted the largest four clubs have featured in the finals 21 times in the past seven years, compared with just 12 appearances by the four smallest.
■Their club base used to be known as the Lexus Centre before they switched to a bank, and now the Magpies have got themselves a new set of wheels after apparently signing a sponsorship deal with Holden, which is expected to be announced on Friday morning.
■Brent Macaffer will wear the No. 3 jumper this season in honour of former teammate and friend the late John McCarthy.
McCarthy died during an end-of-season trip with Port Adelaide teammates in Las Vegas in September 2012. He wore the No. 3 at Collingwood from 2008-11, before moving to Port in 2012.