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SBD Global/June 4, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Mid-Level Australian Football League Clubs Unhappy With Equalization Plans

Mid-level AFL clubs like Fremantle are against the league's equalization plan.
The Australian Football League's "historic bid" to create an even football competition is "facing a mutinous response from at least five middle-level clubs," according to Caroline Wilson of THE AGE. The clubs are "disenchanted in the belief they will be harshly taxed" by incoming CEO Gillon McLachlan’s "complex equalisation formula." Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Geelong and Richmond "have been stunned at learning" they will be taxed between A$200,000 ($185,000) and A$400,000 annually over the next two years compared with the capped A$500,000 to be carried by Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast. McLachlan "will roll out his new competitive balance formula" to the 18 clubs on Wednesday in what "looms as a lengthy session at head office," which will also mark outgoing CEO Andrew Demetriou’s final day. Fremantle CEO Steve Rosich: ''The devil will be in the detail. Hopefully, the detail won't be the devil." Several disillusioned chief execs have pointed out to the AFL that "middle-ranked clubs will be the hardest hit," with some being taxed close to 50% of their profits compared with closer to 10% by Collingwood (THE AGE, 6/3). In Sydney, Greg Denham reported additional annual funding to be spread among the AFL’s poorest clubs "is not expected to be much more" than A$3M, a figure "way below what struggling clubs had hoped for." Some clubs "believed their individual benefit" from the new scheme would be about A$1M. Up to seven clubs will share the A$3M, a figure "drastically reduced due to pressure from the AFL’s ­financial powerhouse clubs" Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast. One "stunned" club official said, “When you consider that total AFL and club revenue will be about A$1.4 billion next year, this is chicken feed, it’s an ­insult” (THE AUSTRALIAN, 6/4). In Melbourne, Jake Niall reported under the new arrangements, the salary cap "will be increased" by about 4.5% in '15 and '16 -- higher than the 3% rises "that were guaranteed." While "there has been a strong push for salary cap equality" -- with Sydney's "contentious" cost of living allowance "to be phased out and replaced by a rental allowance" -- the AFL "will retain the veterans' allowance for the next two years." This rule allows players with 10 years' service at a club to be paid an extra A$118,000 a year "outside of the salary cap" in '14 (THE AGE, 6/3).
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