The 2020 AFL season has come to its conclusion.
As a Year 11 student currently in the process of completing my VCE, one of the subjects I’ve selected is Economics. Why? Because economics is a big part of sport – and if anything can increase my interest in study, it’s sport.
In the past week, the AFL announced that it would introduce a dynamic ticketing system. This means that higher drawing matches, such as ANZAC Day and Dreamtime at the ‘G, will have higher ticket prices.
The demand for seats at such matches is so high that it won’t have much of an impact on the crowd, while also boosting the coffers of the AFL and the home side.
Or so people believe.
I’ve read many posts by football fans who are angry at this move. The majority are supporters of the poorer Victorian clubs in the Western Bulldogs or North Melbourne.
They don’t like the fact they might have to pay more to attend matches when they believe AFL ticket prices are high enough. They’re also afraid that by this move, rich clubs such as Collingwood will just get richer.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, this will help their clubs out a lot more.
Firstly, this will encourage supporters to sign up for a membership, as this scheme doesn’t apply to members.
But more importantly, dynamic ticket pricing on top of the already in place $2.00 levy on tickets will form part of the AFL’s new equalisation scheme.
While the salary cap is in place to stop an English Premier League-type gap between the top six clubs and the rest, there is no cap on off-field spending and the AFL has recognised this as a problem.
The new scheme will spread out AFL funds more equally in terms of supplying more money to the clubs which perhaps have a smaller support base, therefore gaining smaller income from membership and ticket prices.
The next step is an inevitable salary cap on the football department, which many believe will be put in place in the next 10-15 years. Socialism is alive and kicking in the AFL.
While clubs are generally in favour of equalisation, Collingwood CEO Gary Pert has expressed fears that should the AFL go too far in its attempts, clubs could end up as “McDonald’s franchises” – identical in everything except location.
Even if the AFL do go to the extremes of a salary cap for an entire football club, some will still be more successful than others. Life certainly isn’t fair all of the time, so why should sport be?
One of the first things you’re taught in Economics is the basic concept of supply and demand. Isn’t that what is being done here?
Every January, why do people splash out hundreds of dollars to get a seat at Rod Laver Arena when they could pay less to just purchase a ground pass? Quality of matches.
And in what world is a ticket to Kanye West the same price as going to see your local pub band?
This change to ticket prices is just common sense.
Over the years, the AFL has adopted many measures from the US. The draft, the salary cap and night football have all come from the NFL, and now dynamic ticket pricing will join them.
What certain media outlets have conveniently decided to overlook is the fact that the dynamic ticket pricing scheme will also lower entry fees for certain matches.
Patrons will be charged less to watch games between lower teams. This is in an attempt to boost the crowd numbers which could potentially earn the hosting club more money than it previously did.
It can only be a good thing for the stadium management, the clubs and the AFL.
There are not many things I find more annoying than when people complain about the high cost of tickets, but then they talk about the so-called unevenness of the competition.
By international standards, neither argument stands.
Big owners buy clubs who invest in big name players who improve the performance of the side, which in turn raises crowds which then raises demand for tickets.
The owners then want a return for their investment and raise ticket prices and that creates more money so that the cycle can continue and the club can achieve success.
Football is a business, and it has been for a long time now.
Supporters of Australian Rules football need to realise they can’t have it both ways, and that the system that is being implemented will maintain the competitiveness of the competition.
There will always be rich clubs and poor clubs, there is no denying that. Collingwood will always have a bigger supporter base than Melbourne. West Coast will always have more money than the Western Bulldogs.
Equalisation, however, will attempt to make these gaps smaller. It will be good for the game.