Unlike many Melbourne-based clubs, the Giants do not rely on gaming revenue, and field teams in the AFLW and the Super Netball competitions.
While the Giants’ loss includes $662,644 of depreciation relating to their training and administration headquarters at Sydney Olympic Park, it’s the club’s heavy injury toll which most affected their financial performance, Matthews says.
The Giants were hit hard by injuries again last year with stars such as Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly missing chunks of the season. Ward played just one match after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Geelong. Stars Tom Scully, who is now at Hawthorn, Zac Williams and Toby Greene all missed large portions of 2018.
Injuries to the top echelon of players, who generally have fixed contracts without match fees, have a compounding effect as the club then has to stump up match payments of $5000 a game for a replacement. That then enables the player to meet triggers he otherwise would not be expected to reach.
But situations such as that of youngster Lachie Tiziani, who was delisted in 2018 after not playing a senior game, was also costly. He ruptured his ACL in the NEAFL in 2018 but as he had played the week before in the then JLT Community Series he continued to be paid AFL match payments.
“Injuries have been a factor between $500,000 to $750,000 each year [the last two years],” Matthews told The Herald. “That’s not something that’s sustainable. There’s an element of luck but also we look at what we can do to improve and how we manage that.
“When you’re trying to set a football strategy and you have this opportunity, a window, you have to make sure you’re thereabouts in terms of investment.”
Matthews described the club’s injury run in the last three years as an “outlier” and is confident they will improve this season. The club has made key changes in personnel with Jason McCartney replacing Wayne Campbell as the head of football while David Joyce has left as the head of high performance.
The Giants played three consecutive games away from Sydney last year in a September campaign which finished with a hefty loss on grand final day. Costs spiralled due to travel and venue hire for the mandatory grand final night functions.
“We went above and beyond,” Matthews said. “As we got to a prelim against Collingwood, given the sense of history and potential history, we wanted to make sure our entire playing list is there. You incur additional expenditure.”
Despite the financial loss, the Giants said last season represented “positive growth” for the club. The Giants’ club-generated revenue of $21,603,431 was up 22 per cent on the previous financial year, while they recorded a membership record of 30,109.
The club believes it is on track to eclipse that mark this season with their current tally of 25,392 up 51.5 per cent to the same time last year.
“When you get close you roll the dice. If you exclude injuries the deficit is small relative to what the prize would be,” Matthews said. “If you’re losing money and we’re missing the eight people should be concerned. We see it as absolute investment in what you’re trying to do which is to win.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald