AFL financial reports highlight wealth divide

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Its finance reporting season for AFL clubs and the annual reports are in for all but St Kilda, and so we gain an excellent snap shot of the current economic climate amongst Victorian clubs.

We can’t produce the same across non-Victorian clubs due to the way those clubs are operated. Adelaide, Port and Brisbane (and I believe Sydney) do produce individual annual reports, but the WA clubs, and the new boys on the Gold Coast certainly dont at this time. Further, St Kilda haven’t supplied an annual report yet.

Memberships were up across Melbourne, with 25,000 members added to the 2010 tally taking numbers to 425,756. Seven out of ten Victorian clubs recorded increases, with Collingwood taking out top spot with an increase of more than 17,000.

At the bottom of the ladder, the Saints dropped more than 6,000 members. Collingwood, Hawthorn, Carlton, Essendon and Richmond round out the top five clubs for membership – all with more than 40,000 members.

To attendances, and these were also up across Melbourne with 25,000 more people going through the gates than in 2010 and total attendances in Melbourne and Geelong exceeding 4.3 million.

The big movers in 2011 were Richmond, Carlton and Essendon recording net gate increase of more than 50,000 attendees.

Collingwood still reigned supreme almost 90,000 clear of the Blues in second place. Bringing up the rear Melbourne dropped 70,000 at home, but the spoon goes to the Bulldogs and North, both under 300,000 attendees.

To revenue, and its Collingwood and daylight. The Pies turning over 75 million this year, more than 24 million clear of the second-placed Bombers. Hawthorn and Geelong round out the top 4 there.

North Melbourne haplessly bring up the rear on 26 million, 12 million below the league average (38 million for vic clubs). Victorian clubs raised more than $400 million in revenue in 2011.

Its been widely reported than nine AFL clubs have made a loss this year, but in terms of operations only two Melbourne clubs (North and St Kilda lost money). Four clubs made profits of more than a million dollars. (Collingwood made more than $2 million).

When write offs and depreciation are factored in, three clubs made a loss, including Hawthorn (albeit narrowly). The addition of AFL and Australian Sporting Foundation Grants almost certainly means two more clubs made a loss when these are taken out.

Total profit for the Melbourne clubs is more than $7 million, and more than $12 million after consolidation.

In marketing and sponsorship revenue, Collingwood remain top earning $22 million, Richmond, Essendon and Geelong on around $15 million.

Melbourne, North Melbourne and the Bulldogs fall way down on $8 million each. More than $123 million in sponsorship was raised in Melbourne across 10 clubs with an average of more than 12 million.

Revenue from Membership and gate receipts topped $100 million, Collingwood clear winners as expected with more than $16 million from members alone. Geelong, Richmond, Carlton and Essendon rounding out the top end, while North struggled with less than $6 million. The league average in Melbourne was over 10 million.

Gaming revenue is a tricky one, and most clubs include this with their social club takings – including hospitality and beverages. Most clubs in Melbourne average $3-4 million in gaming revenue.

Ironically, the biggest gaming beneficiary is Brisbane taking more than $12 million from pokies in 2011. North has no gaming revenue at all.

Melbourne clubs spent more than 170 million on their football departments in 2011, and even North managed to spend 15 million on theirs in 2011. Collingwood way out in front at 19 million, Geelong, Essendon and Carlton not far behind.

Theres a lot of positives in the annual reports for clubs. Some have debts, but they appear to be entirely manageable, and for the foreseeable future the clubs finances are backed by the AFL.

North and the Bulldogs remain causes for concern, they just appear to have no strong support either in the crowd or corporate sectors. As long as this remains the case, their future will be called into question by the waiting vultures, equalisation fund be damned.

On the flip side, that Collingwood benefits from the fixture more than any other club cannot really be a question any more.

Not that it’s Collingwoods fault – every club wants to play them and theres only a certain number of AFL games that melbourne clubs can play interstate, for which the Pies generally do meet the average.

Hawthorn continues to be a financial powerhouse, with a reported $20 million sitting in the bank, developments in Tasmania and New Zealand, and a feisty board.

I don’t think theres any coincidence that guys like Eddie McGuire and Jeff Kennett are – or were in Jeff’s case – at the helms of two of Australias most prosperous football clubs.

Carlton, Essendon and Richmond are begining to perk up again, and this is reflected in their memberships and astonishing increases in crowds.

Essendon and Carlton in particular will be wondering if they can the MCG for home matches when their current deals expire. Carlton are already selling out Docklands for matches against non victorian clubs.

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