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Poorer AFL clubs might get bigger slice of Pies

Pie and mighty: Collingwood star Dane Swan and teammates at training on Thursday.

Pie and mighty: Collingwood star Dane Swan and teammates at training on Thursday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

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.

9 comments so far

  • A more equitable draw would be a good start. After ten years of equal exposure we might find there is less need for handouts.

    Date and time
    February 01, 2013, 1:32PM
    • You can say the pies switched to Westpac instead of switched to a Bank you know.

      Is it only car companies(lexux/toyota and Holden) which advertise with fairfax?

      Date and time
      February 01, 2013, 3:21PM
      • two simple keys to an even playing field remained the draft and salary cap.

        Draft compromised by tanking and third party payments make the salary cap irrelevant.

        Date and time
        February 01, 2013, 4:51PM
        • The afl give north and wb 2 million a year this is wrong it should be 7.2 million why you ask easy
          North receive 800k for 9 home games at etihad
          Geelong receive 8 million for 7 games at skilled stadium
          Therefore etihad is pocketing 7.2 million on our gate

          Mark Tarneit
          Date and time
          February 01, 2013, 5:46PM
          • Just give the other teams the same use of the MCG as Collingwood 5-6 other teams could fill it and match their attendance. Also give them Anzac day spread it around make Collingwood play at Ethiad ,Tasmania ,Darwin .And name every single player from all clubs on third party deals and other payments so all the whingers can see their clubs are involved .Watch them get amnesia then.

            McCHINS McChins everywhere
            Date and time
            February 01, 2013, 6:16PM
            • Why do we always use American sport as a model? That's where we got the illegal draft from, the one that is a restraint of trade and encourages tanking! Now we are looking at so-called equalisation compared with 3 US sports. I don't know much about US sport, but they have a much greater population, and all 3 sports, basketball, baseball and NFL, would be equally popular across the country. So you wouldn't have the problem we have here with 10 clubs out of 18 being from one state! 10 clubs in Melbourne, some rich, some poor, is just not sustainable. Then you have the issue of the new expansion clubs needing extra money to establish themselves. No wonder so-called equalisation isn't working. Even in footy mad Melbourne, the population can't support 10 clubs. The strong ones like Collingwood have always had massive support, and the weaker ones like North and the Bulldogs still haven't overcome the handicap of starting 30 years after the rest. And they never will. Especially if they can't even draw enough support to break even at home games, with the cost of Docklands. Time for some reality to be faced by the AFL.

              Chris H
              Date and time
              February 01, 2013, 9:59PM
              • Just an observation..Isn't it ironic that the club with the most welfare recipients as supporters squeals about low achievers being subsidised by the rich?

                Date and time
                February 02, 2013, 11:34AM
                • How about getting ALL the AFL clubs - which are all $35M+ annual turnover businesses - to actually pay market rates for the public land they use to line the pockets of all involved?

                  There might be some "equalisation" if Collingwood actually paid the millions of dollars in annual rent for occupying such a location to run their business - and the same applies to all AFL clubs who bludge on Crown land.

                  Pay your way you "Professional" clubs and stop bludgeing on the public purse.

                  Date and time
                  February 02, 2013, 11:54AM
                  • What ever happened to the call, "no taxation without representation"? As a Collingwood fundamentalist the inborn capability to give a helping hand to my brothers of all persuasions sits easily with me, but taxation without representation to support what or who?

                    Equality of values
                    West of the Alice
                    Date and time
                    February 02, 2013, 1:32PM

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