It takes much more than a million-dollar contract to recruit players in order to build a successful football club.

As the football world’s beliefs have been confirmed, the foundations upon which the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney have been built are unstable.

Within the past decade proud Victorian clubs such as Melbourne, Hawthorn, Footscray, North Melbourne and Richmond have struggled to keep afloat, both on and off the field.

Despite being proud, traditional clubs with loyal fan-bases these clubs were outright struggling to exist.

Yet each club respectively had board members to stand up and ensure that they remained financially stable.

Some have since delivered some sort of on-field success.

North Melbourne President James Brayshaw was an extreme advocate for his club, getting all North members on board to boost the club financially.

He kept them coming to the games, doing his utmost to ensure crowd numbers for home games remained respectable.

While North Melbourne are not by any means a financial powerhouse in the AFL they have come a long way since a few years ago.

Their facilities have improved, their list management is better and relocation talks have been put to rest.

The same story goes for Melbourne and Richmond.

While neither have experienced great on-field success – and both have had their fair share of controversies – both clubs are in a much better financial position than they were a few years ago.

So the one question that has been niggling for two years is, if there were clubs already struggling in the AFL then exactly how was bringing two new AFL teams into the competition going to eradicate this?

A few years on and we now have 18 teams in the competition, which also means approximately 100 new players in the AFL, excluding the new draft picks from the previous year who went to clubs elsewhere.

Furthermore, there are more run-of-the-mill players coming through the AFL ranks than ever before, to allow for the two new team lists.

This all equates to less authentic AFL-standard talent.

There are more recycled players lured by a hefty pay cheque. There are more non-contracted players being hunted from other clubs. There are more completely lopsided matches, week in, week out.

There is now a struggle to keep substantial crowds coming in for Gold Coast or Greater Western Sydney games.

The biggest concern of all remains these clubs’ ability to take uncontracted players from other teams in the competition.

Admittedly, players have always moved clubs for money.

The only difference from the past, in terms of attracting players from other clubs, is that back then players moved for both the money and the opportunity to experience success.

They knew it would make the move worth more than just the dollar value.

Can you imagine if Fremantle were given a great deal of cash back in their humble beginnings, trying to lure Brownlow medallist James Hird from Essendon?

Wouldn’t have happened.

These days, however, the two new clubs on the block have the money and the questionable right to offer the big bucks to uncontracted players from all over the league.

This, despite them likely to be sitting comfortably at the bottom of the ladder for some time to come in two non-Aussie-Rules states.

The re-signing of Tiger Brett Deledio for five years and Magpie Scott Pendlebury for a four-year contract at their respective clubs has put many speculating critics back in their place.

Players already know that a move to either Gold Coast or GWS is not going to be a fast road to success.

Perhaps now they’re realising that the hardships each club is set to face for a long time to come far outweigh the allure of the extra money.

It will be a true testament to the character of the non-contracted players as to who is enticed by cash and who remains a loyal clubman, in this greedy day and age of our game.

The AFL has encouraged and supported these two new teams endlessly.

Now the football world is left to simply ponder why the AFL has become so money driven and in turn oblivious to the struggles that these two teams will face for a substantial amount of time.

Hawthorn, Footscray (now Western Bulldogs), North Melbourne, Melbourne and Richmond were only able to survive via the loyal, passionate diehards of each respective club.

Without that network of support who knows where these clubs would be.

While the AFL can inject all the money, advertising and support into these new clubs, unfortunately clubs supporters’ loyalty and generosity are not buyable assets.

While this has been the inevitable situation for over a year now, it is becoming alarmingly apparent that the rush to get these clubs into the AFL was a botched one, built on a money-driven expansion plan.

If only the AFL had thought about the true assets that build the foundations of a football club.

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The Crowd Says (41)

  • April 12th 2012 @ 3:18pm
    Cameron said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

    Do we have nothing more to talk about on the roar afl tab than worries about GWS and GC and how the investment in them will not pay off in the short term or the effect on the other clubs?
    This is all that seems to be talked about lately. Getting tired of it.

    • Roar Guru

      April 12th 2012 @ 3:32pm
      The_Wookie said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

      Its the sports only real weakness. when this material runs dry, they can go back to mocking our international aspirations. *waves*

    • April 12th 2012 @ 11:17pm
      Bludger said | April 12th 2012 @ 11:17pm | ! Report

      What I want to know is, can we all go back to calling soccer soccer and AFL to football?

      Soccer had it’s best shot and pretty much fell over. It should just accept it’s spot in the food chain.

      NRL is on shaky ground. Tinkler might work his magic on the Knights next, so that will be the Titans and Knights down the gurgler, before we even start on about the Sharkies.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 12:31pm
        cos789 said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        The NRL isn’t on shaky ground. The Knights have some pretty big firewalls between themselves and the Jets. The members of the Knights get to buy the whole club and its assets back for $1 if Tinkler tries this kind of thing.

        The Titans aren’t down the gurgler – there are two groups with $20M and $35M respectively waiting like vultures for Michael Searles property assets to force him out.

        The Sharks problems are now pretty much sorted, but hey bring up old news and hope its relevant right?

        The club that I think is in most trouble atm is Penrith.

        But the NRL is likely to get $1.2B TV deal as was published in the SMH / Age today. Things are going pretty good.

      • April 18th 2012 @ 10:10pm
        stu said | April 18th 2012 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

        Bludger….not sure why this thing about ‘soccer/football’ keeps on going round and round. Who is telling you to call it football? The governing body calls it football, the odd traditionalist wants you to call it football. For me, as I am a lover of soccer really don’t care either way. AFL/NRL/ARU use the term football as well. I think most people are creating a situation that does not exist. So at the end of the day we call all codes football, and when it needs to be specific AFL/NRL/ARU/A-League!!

      • April 18th 2012 @ 10:28pm
        Queensland's Game is Rugby League said | April 18th 2012 @ 10:28pm | ! Report

        Hi Bludger,

        How are North Melbourne and Port Adelaide going?

        Still losing money?

        I see the Brisbane Lions made another massive loss in 2011.

        The AFL might be in a far stronger position than the NRL, but it has its fair share of problems.

        The AFL might be successful with the Suns. There’s a lot of ex-pats living on the Gold Coast to support the team. They have a good stadium and recruited well.

        GWS is a real concern, in my opinion. The team appears to have been rushed together too quickly. The Blacktown oval is not AFL standard. I cannot see too many people wanting to go sit on a hill so they can watch a hastily rushed together team get belted by 100 points.

        • Roar Guru

          April 18th 2012 @ 11:08pm
          The Cattery said | April 18th 2012 @ 11:08pm | ! Report

          Blacktown was more a one off while the Showgrounds are still getting developed. I think the next two home games are at Manuka and then they’re ready to play at the Showgrounds.

          As for teams losing money, during up periods, teams make money and during down periods, they lose money.

          15 years ago Collingwood were broke and losing money. Today, after five grand final appearances, and 1 premiership, they have 70,000 members and bring in about $75 million in revenue each year.

          Similarly, Carlton were making losses about six years ago, this year, they are looking at a $2 million profit.

          Hawthorn is swimming in money as they get close to 60,000 members.

          Port Adelaide consistently sells 32,000+ memberships. Once they move to Adelaide Oval, expect that to rise, and they’ll get back to a better trading position.

          North continues to looks for opportunities to increase its membership base.

  • April 12th 2012 @ 3:34pm
    Ian Whitchurch said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

    “exactly how was bringing two new AFL teams into the competition going to eradicate this?”

    More games in big markets equals more games to sell on pay TV equals billion dollar TV contract.

    This has been a simple answer to a simple question.

  • Roar Guru

    April 12th 2012 @ 3:38pm
    The Cattery said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

    People seem to forget that much of the 60% increase in the TV rights was predicated on an extra game, i.e. don’t worry about how the two clubs will pay for themselves for the next five years – they’ve done it with interest!

    I’m also bemused that the author includes Hawthorn amongst its list of struggling clubs – is that same club currently pushing towards 60,000 members??

    Don’t worry about the next 5 years, or even the next 10 years, the AFL is looking at the next 154 years.

    • Roar Guru

      April 12th 2012 @ 3:51pm
      The_Wookie said | April 12th 2012 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

      the same hawthorn club whose financial reports had something like seven million in cash…in the bank at the end of the 2011 reporting period. Struggle town has changed a lot over the years

      • April 12th 2012 @ 4:42pm
        Australian Rules said | April 12th 2012 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

        The Hawks are equal flag favourites, have piles of cash, the (allegedly) largest sponsorship deal in football history (a State Govt), and almost 60,000 members…those poor wretched mugs!

        • Roar Guru

          April 12th 2012 @ 5:45pm
          The Cattery said | April 12th 2012 @ 5:45pm | ! Report

          Those leafy boulevards of Hawthorn are paved in gold and brown leaf litter this time of year!

    • Roar Guru

      April 13th 2012 @ 9:20am
      mds1970 said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      They went perilously close to merging with Melbourne in 1996; but it’s been all rivers of gold for the Hawks ever since.

      • April 13th 2012 @ 2:44pm
        St.Kilda4evr said | April 13th 2012 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        Good on em. If I wasn’t a saints fan, I’d be a whorks fan.

  • April 12th 2012 @ 5:23pm
    ruckroverr said | April 12th 2012 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

    5 years from now we’ll all know. Chances are GWS and GC will be regular finalists by then, TV ratings into new areas for the AFL will be OK and support another big TV rights contract. Some clubs will always be needing life support. But the model works, unlike the A-League relying on the whims of billionaires and tax-payer handouts.

    Keeping player and support staff payments in check is important, whether the AFL can continue to pay big bikkies to the players is a real question and clubs probably need some kind of salary cap imposed for the myriad number of coaches. Presumably if the A-league salaries to players and coaches were commensurate with league income the billionaires would not be bleeding millions per week.

  • April 12th 2012 @ 6:24pm
    Paul said | April 12th 2012 @ 6:24pm | ! Report

    I honestly believe that:
    1. Gold Coast will succeed
    2. GWS will not

    On the first point, as a resident of South East Queensland I can already observe that GC is an AFL area, rather than an NRL one. When Joh Bjelke-Petersen abolished death duties and lured southerners north, many of them were Victorian and few ventured north of Ormeau. They also brought their preference for the southern code with them. I remember going to a North Melb v Adelaide game at Carrara in 2007, driving around and listening to the radio it was apparent that the GC people already wanted to claim the Kangaroos as their own. GC17 was only set up when the Kangaroos, led by James Brayshaw, rejected the proposal to move there themselves. The AFL’s only real challenge is to convince supporters of other AFL clubs residing on the Gold Coast to give the new team a chance. Sure, GC is geographically in Queensland and those that will argue about the area’s traditions, but aside from the geography, what’s so Queenslandish about GC? Any houses on stilts with mango trees? No! The Titans will survive, but all the Suns need is some on-field success and the enthusiasm for them will eclipse their league counterparts.

    GWS is a different proposition. The Giants have to compete with several NRL clubs and other sports with higher participation rates. On-field success isn’t coming quickly. As for Israel Folau, how long is this publicity stunt going to endure? The simple fact is he didn’t grow up playing the game and isn’t likely to be a superstar. Andrew D seems willing to stick with it in the long-haul, and not having to pay much for representative teams heading abroad (an IR game in Dublin hardly equates to tours of Europe and World Cup qualifying campaigns) means the broadcasting cash is going to be in abundance to splash on this, but who’s to say a more rationalist AFL Chairman post-AD is going to see it the same way? If GWS generate far too many losses and are sucking away funds necessary for the sport’s development, the chopping block may loom. Of course, everything depends on how well attended the Giants’ games are – another Fitzroy is not what the AFL needs.

    • April 12th 2012 @ 7:22pm
      Mark said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

      Really?, is that like the way the brisbane bears survived their three incarnations?The Gold coast is AFL territory, ask skase, cronin and pellerman.

      How many national sporting teams has the area eaten and spat out?

      • Roar Guru

        April 12th 2012 @ 9:30pm
        The Cattery said | April 12th 2012 @ 9:30pm | ! Report

        Three incarnations?

        I was just looking up the stats of the Bears’ final season at Carrara in 1992 (before they moved permanently to the Gabba).

        There were certainly some dire crowds during the season, but they did manage over 13k in their third last game at Carrara, a touch more than what the Suns got in their opening home game of the season against the Crows – and that was exactly 20 years ago.

        Can the Suns get 13k+ consistently, even while near the bottom of the ladder? Yes, I believe they can.

    • April 13th 2012 @ 12:05pm
      Jason said | April 13th 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

      I have lived on the Gold Coast my entire life and being a neutral party to the whole AFL VS NRL debate, your statement that the GC is more an AFL area is a flat out lie and just plain rediculous. The area is rugby league mad you just need to go the the schools and watch what game they play at lunch to see that, or look at the footy tipping comps in work places.

      what’s so Queenslandish about GC? You’ve got to be joking, you can’t possibly be a born and bred Queenslander

      • April 18th 2012 @ 10:18pm
        stu said | April 18th 2012 @ 10:18pm | ! Report

        mate…..don’t want to start a debate about soccer/RL. OK grass routes soccer is definatley stronger that RL on the coast, however neither translates into good crowd figures relative to the professional status of either code. As for AFL…..it will survive but the crowds will be refective of the same poor form of he other codes.

    • April 18th 2012 @ 10:40pm
      Queensland's Game is Rugby League said | April 18th 2012 @ 10:40pm | ! Report

      “I remember going to a North Melb v Adelaide game at Carrara in 2007, driving around and listening to the radio it was apparent that the GC people already wanted to claim the Kangaroos as their own.”

      I recall Demetriou throwing a tantrum a few years ago because the Titans played on the same night that the North Melbourne were playing at Carrara. Under 10,000 people bothered to turn up to the AFL match, while the Titans drew 26,000 fans through the gates.

      http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2008/06/30/13070_gold-coast-sport.html

      Rugby league is the dominant sport on the Gold Coast. A quick search on Google revealed that in 2008 there were 4.485 juniors playing rugby league on the Gold Coast, compared to just 1.936 for AFL.

      http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2008/07/26/14200_gold-coast-sport.html

  • April 12th 2012 @ 7:00pm
    Swampy said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

    The story is so blinkered it defies intelligence. Whitchurch is bang on in reply. New markets and new corporates. Gates won’t matter but GC smashing other codes in attendances on the Coast.

    Unlike the FFA, the AFL have long term plans that were first proposed a decade or more ago. They also have a massive war chest, own part of nearly all their stadia, have solid governance and people running the game who are genuine fans of the code.

    Club Presidents and boards are voluntary positions and read the names of people who have involved themselves (Eddie, Jeff Kennett, David Smorgan, Ron Joseph, Julie Bishop, Frank Costa to name a few). People who are in it for more than just a plaything.

    GC and GWS have a decade on their side.

    North Melb, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and St Kilda are more exposed than the expansion teams – but they have been for years and they have survived thus far.

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    • Roar Guru

      April 12th 2012 @ 7:56pm
      The Cattery said | April 12th 2012 @ 7:56pm | ! Report

      Julie Bishop? Who is she involved with?

      • April 13th 2012 @ 9:13am
        Australian Rules said | April 13th 2012 @ 9:13am | ! Report

        On the board of WCE

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