I am going to start by saying that I LOVE GWS and I like Gold Coast (sorry, Suns – but GWS has Jeremy Cameron so there’s really no getting around it). And in no way do I think they are catastrophe, like Tim Lane does. But I do have some issues…
This is more of a question than a rant or informative post. I have ideas and thoughts, but honestly, I want to know the answer to this question.
With several AFL clubs unable to even meet the salary cap, why did the AFL expand?
This is not news: for many, many years the AFL has had clubs struggling financially. Often times, clubs operate at a loss with the help of funds from the league and, back in the day, revenue sharing.
There are also many clubs that struggle with attendance and membership. For several clubs, membership has been inconsistent, at best, and attendance spotty. There are the powerhouses like Collingwood and Carlton… but then there are the battlers (you know who they are – I shant name names).
Now I’m not a business gal (yet) so maybe I have no idea what I’m saying here… but I’m confused. With all these clubs who are unable to compete with the big boys, the AFL decided to expand?
I’m not saying there wasn’t a market for GWS and Gold Coast. The numbers speak for themselves – Sydney loves GWS and the Gold Coast adore their Suns. Sure, there have been some rocky parts, but that’s what happens when you expand. You try things, learn from mistakes and improve, which it seems like GC and GWS are doing. Power to them – they’re doing well.
But was expanding the right move? To me, I see sport as a business which it is (it is also many other things, but ultimately, it is a company with franchises). The difference between a sports league and another franchise company say, McDonalds, is that there are thousands of people invested in the franchises. When McDonalds sees a branch that isn’t delivering and is repeatedly losing money, it shuts it down – period. That’s why it can afford to open more and more and more stores – because they terminate the ones that aren’t bringing in any cash.
That can’t be done in sport since it’s not that easy and the AFL can’t operate under these restrictions because of the fans. Although it should – the AFL is paying to keep clubs in places where they are not supported instead of investing in clubs . To me, that seems foolish. But Australia is nothing if not traditional so, the way I see it, something else needs to happen: all clubs should have been financially stable before expansion clubs were approved… or even suggested. There were enough issues to deal with before the new clubs came in.
When it comes to improvement, there is no “right time” – that much is certain. If you always wait for the perfect time, you will always be waiting. But was it wise to expand the league when the league is in a bit of trouble (I’m referring only to money and attendance – no one could have foreseen this whole drug fiasco)?
Just a note… if I were the AFL commissioner, I would have gone with relocation instead of expansion. I know many AFL fans have issues with this, but look at how well it all worked out in the case of SMFC (aka the Sydney Swans). People are upset for a bit, but they get over it and the league is stronger because of it. I honestly do not understand why so many people are anti-relocation. Look at how great the Nets are doing since they’ve moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn!
I actually would LOVE an answer to this so if anyone has any ideas… let me know. We’ll have coffee. Or beer. You know, whatever you like.