North Melbourne will become the Victorian club taking the most AFL assistance funding while Gold Coast and GWS again lead the way in 2023.
The Age reported the details of the AFL’s 2023 distribution of variable funding, which sees clubs given money based on their financial need in an attempt to balance out the competition.
Four clubs will take the minimum base distribution, which this year will be between $10.5 and $11 million – Richmond, Hawthorn, Collingwood and West Coast.
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In effect these are the most financially sound clubs, either because of their size and fan support, or in the case of the Hawks their strong bank account after selling their pokies assets.
The biggest teams also gain advantages when it comes to fixturing, being given the biggest matches and most primetime appearances in a compounding effect – they draw the most viewers and attendees, so they get the best timeslots, so they draw more viewers and attendees, and so on.
In 2021, West Coast reported the least funding from the AFL distribution at $11.8 million, but generated $61.7 million in revenue – with only second-placed Richmond close ($13.3 million from the AFL, $39.7 million self-generated plus $21 million from fitness and leisure centres).
In contrast that year Gold Coast was given $25.4 million from the AFL but self-generated just $12.8 million.
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Essendon ($11-11.5 million) is the fifth least-funded club for 2023 with less than $1 million above the base distribution while Carlton, Adelaide, Fremantle and premiers Geelong ($11.5-12.5 million) will earn an extra million or so.
This means in total, around half of the competition will receive little to no extra funding. All of them will receive less than the annual salary cap figure.
Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have recently improved their financial positions and join Sydney and Port Adelaide ($16 million) in the next bracket of clubs.
Then come the two smallest Victorian sides, St Kilda and North Melbourne, with the Kangaroos to receive slightly more than the Saints this year, both around the same level as Brisbane ($18-19 million).
These teams either have significant debts or, in the case of the back-to-back wooden spooner Kangaroos, have been judged to need the extra help for various reasons. They reported a profit last year.
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As usual the newest clubs will receive the most funding with GWS and Gold Coast to each be given around $25 million, more than double what the Eagles, Magpies, Hawks, Tigers, Bombers, Cats, Crows, Blues or Dockers will receive.
The exact amounts are yet to be confirmed as the AFL is still finalising the salary cap with the AFL Players Association, but teams have reportedly been told to budget for an increase on 2022 of five per cent.
The Age estimated St Kilda received $156 million across the decade 2012-21, the most of any Victorian club and $17 million more than the next (Western Bulldogs), with Brisbane ($160 million), Gold Coast ($198 million) and GWS ($203 million) getting the most help over that period.
“Equalisation works. Without equalisation, I would be so bold as to suggest that Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and GWS wouldn’t have been in grand finals (in recent years),” Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane told The Age.
“You’ve only got to look at this year. If you’re well-balanced, and you’re looking ahead to this year, you’d be very hard-pressed – with the exception of about three teams – to work out what’s going to be the top eight.
“It’s a very even competition, and equalisation is part of that; versus we turn ourselves into an EPL (English Premier League) in the UK, and you have four or five big, successful clubs and everybody under them struggles to maintain their position and be in a position, on a reasonably regular basis, where they can be competitive.”
THE AFL 2023 FUNDING LADDER
1. Gold Coast ($25 million)
2. GWS Giants ($25 million)
3. Brisbane Lions ($18-19 million)
4. North Melbourne ($18-19 million)
5. St Kilda ($18-19 million)
6. Melbourne ($16 million)
7. Western Bulldogs ($16 million)
8. Port Adelaide ($16 million)
9. Sydney Swans ($16 million)
10. Fremantle ($11.5-12.5 million)
11. Carlton ($11.5-12.5 million)
12. Adelaide Crows ($11.5-12.5 million)
13. Geelong ($11.5-12.5 million)
14. Essendon ($11-11.5 million)
=15. Richmond ($10.5-11 million)
=15. Hawthorn ($10.5-11 million)
=15. Collingwood ($10.5-11 million)
=15. West Coast ($10.5-11 million)
Base amount of $10.5 to $11 million included
All figures are approximate which is why some ties, ie between the Suns and Giants on $25 million, are broken
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au