Andrew Demetriou said discussions had not been fruitful with venue owner Melbourne Stadiums. Photo: Simon SchluterPreparing to announce a profit of about $15 million this week, AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has revealed the league is still a long way from being able to buy the privately-owned Etihad Stadium at a ”fair price”.
Tenant clubs St Kilda, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have long bemoaned that their deals to play home matches at the Docklands venue have significantly hamstrung their ability to generate money and have contributed to the financial disparity between clubs. The AFL can wait and take control of the stadium on March 8, 2025, for $1 but several clubs want the league to buy it earlier in the hope this will allow deals with tenant clubs to be redrawn and improved.
The Saints have pointed out that, for example, they were handed a bill of almost $100,000 for a home game at Etihad last season, when the same match at the MCG would have generated a six-figure profit.
Demetriou said discussions had not been fruitful with venue owner Melbourne Stadiums, which represents five superannuation companies. ”You would only do it if it was financially viable. We’ve always said … we would not put the competition at risk and we would only pay a fair price, and we are a long way from that,” Demetriou said on Sunday.
He had recently warned tenant clubs if the league took control of the stadium it would not necessarily mean better returns, for the AFL could use the money generated from hosting matches to repay debt.
Some club chiefs have privately questioned whether the league would be best served running a stadium that also hosts other sports and entertainment.
It’s understood the AFL has offered about $250 million for the stadium, with its owners believing this is between $20 million and $30 million short.
With equalisation discussions to continue at a meeting of club chiefs in Adelaide this week, ahead of the season launch, Demetriou said any tax on club revenue or gross or profit would be a ”very small tax rate”.
He said the league was not aiming to restrict the strong clubs. Hawthorn and Collingwood have expressed concern over a revenue tax.
”Whatever happens with equalisation we need to apply a lever or handbrake to keep costs under control in the football departments, other than players.”
Speaking on the Channel Nine’s Financial Review Sunday, Demetriou also said the AFL would double its profit of last season, that the league’s media unit had the capability to broadcast matches ”next week” on its website if it chose to and that he still had a desire to join the board of James Packer’s Crown Resorts should the opportunity arise.
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