In my first post of this series (which is looking quite long, might I add) I said that although the salary cap is instituted to ensure talent is evenly disbursed, clubs with more money are able to invest more in their players which results in improved on-field performance. You agreed with me and I told you I would give you an example. So here it is (and no one guessed correctly, by the way): Fremantle.
We’ll look at Fremantle’s record. Since 1995, they have only finished in the top eight on four occasions (’03, ’06, ’10, ’12). If the league was truly competitively balanced, and if the salary cap was the end-all-be-all of fair play, then would have finished in the top eight at least nine times, and won at least one premiership.
Interesting fact: the year following their highest (ever) finishing position of 3 (out of 16) in 2006, membership increased by nearly 22%. Considering clubs main source of revenue is membership fees, that’s quite the incentive to perform well, no?
Several years ago, the club was in debt and not performing very well their average finishing position before their first top four win was 11. In recent years, it’s membership has increased, and as a result, so has their revenue.. Fremantle’s average finishing position since that membership boost is 10. While it’s not a massive difference, it illustrates that an increase in revenue does improve on-field performance. (NOTE: These averages were not adjusted to accommodate the increase in number of club in the competition. With that adjustment, the improvement would likely be higher).
Fremantle is also one of the clubs in the AFL that is actually earning money, which is much rarer than it people think. After operating at a loss for many years, it is now one of the more financially successful clubs in the league boasting a profit of $375,000 for the 2012 season. Not surprisingly, Freo’s solvency is correlated with an improvement in on-field performance. Meaning: the more money the earn, the better they do on the field.
And now that Fremantle is financially viable and no longer in debt? They are improving their facilities. Smart guys. Because they, like me, know that better facilities give you a better team. Any questions?
NOTE: All top eight finishes also come after Pavlich was drafted, but that’s really a conversation for another day.