Millions spent on new clubs Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney has led to the AFL’s first operating loss in a decade. And figures released on Friday show that league boss Andrew Demetriou took a $400,000 pay cut last year.
He banked $1.8million compared to $2.2million in 2010 when he received a long-term retention bonus.
The AFL recorded a deficit of $23.6 million.
AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the rare loss would be quickly made up by anticipated profits over the next five years.
“Our strategic focus on the long-term future of Australian football has positioned the AFL strongly for the next five years and beyond,” Fitzpatrick said.
He said new television and digital media rights would be critical for financial growth in the near future.
“These agreements will underpin the finances of the game from 2012-2016 which includes allocating more than $1 billion to AFL clubs under new equalisation and revenue-sharing arrangements.”
Overall, the league recorded record revenue of $343 million – a two per cent increase – and an operating surplus of $234 million, up from $230 million.
Clubs were provided with total funding of $159 million.
Demetriou’s salary included a base payment of $1.4 million and a $400,000 bonus.
In total the nine-member executive team earned $5.08 million in salaries and bonuses.
The league also released other figures including:
. Record participation – 791,178 from the previous mark of 751,015.
. Record club membership- 650,373 compared to 614,251 in 2010.
. Average attendance – 34,893 which puts the AFL in the top four in the professional sporting world.
Last year’s total attendance for all matches from NAB Cup to the finals was 7,488,198, another new record. It also tops the 2010 figure, which was boosted by the grand final replay.
Fitzpatrick said Demetriou’s wage package was justified by the success and growth of the game.
“The AFL’s executive salary packages reflect this reality and reward the achievement of key targets whilst ensuring we retain our valued team,” Fitzpatrick said.
Demetriou’s salary is still almost $1 million more than the game’s highest paid players.
It is estimated Carlton’s Chris Judd, St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt, Brisbane’s Jonathan Brown and Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich were all paid between $900,000 and $1 million last year.