AFL puts clubs first in debt crisis

The AFL has made it easier for clubs to overcome their financial crises by allowing them to repay other creditors before repaying the millions they borrow from the league.

In what is an important concession to the clubs that already carry major debts, such as St Kilda and the Brisbane Lions, the AFL has protected those that borrow from the league.

In effect, the AFL has placed the league – as the protector of all 18 clubs – behind the other creditors, such as the banks that clubs have borrowed from. Clubs view this step as essential in order for some of them to survive and trade out of their difficulties in future.

In the document signed by the clubs as part of the AFL’s emergency rescue package, the AFL specified that the league did not have to be repaid by the clubs until the boards of those clubs determined that they could make the repayments.

St Kilda owes the AFL about half of their estimated $12 million debt – with the rest owed to the bank – a liability that is set to increase significantly in the course of 2020, while Brisbane owes the AFL about $10m, with a further $7m owed to Westpac. The Lions have a gaming asset that earns about $2m per annum as security for the bank loan.


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