The AFL distribution to all clubs increased by a total of $4 million last year, or one per cent.
St Kilda received significantly more last year than the other members of the bottom four smaller clubs. The Western Bulldogs were paid $16.5 million, Melbourne $16.3 million and North Melbourne’s distribution has not officially released yet in the annual report but sources confirmed it to be about $16 million.
The explanation for the Saints’ higher distribution than the other three smaller clubs is in part that: North Melbourne receive a significant financial boost from the commercial deal to play games in Tasmania; Melbourne have a superior stadium deal with the MCG than Saints at Marvel and they play blockbuster games on Queen’s Birthday and Anzac Eve; and the Western Bulldogs are coming off a period of success in winning a flag.
Sources, however, said that stadium deals were a secondary issue to low attendances, which are a product of poor on-field performance and affect all revenue streams.
St Kilda’s comparatively higher distribution is in part based on the equalisation formula that takes in a disparity on quality of fixturing, the fact they play the most games of any club at Marvel Stadium, have a small membership and generate the lowest amount of income from sponsorship of any Victorian club.
St Kilda have been comparatively weak commercially, last year earning $7.7 million in corporate or sponsorship income which, was a $1 million improvement on the year before but was still $1.7 million less than even the Brisbane Lions were able to generate.
In contrast Melbourne generated $11.3 million in sponsorship and the Western Bulldogs $12.6 million. At the top end of the scale Collingwood declared $20 million in sponsorship or corporate income, Hawthorn $16.6 million and Richmond $15.5 million in their annual reports.
The extra AFL money is not due to the redevelopment of Moorabbin as the club additionally accounted last year for $5 million in Moorabbin redevelopment funding from government grants and contributions which is regarded as non-operating revenues.
The Saints have moved back to Moorabbin into $45 million facilities for which they successfully drew outside funding and only contributed $8 million of their own. The funding of that move has meant the club has not paid down their $12 million debt.