AFL clubs want $160m more for TV rights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL clubs want $160m more for TV rights

By Roger Vaughan 04/05/2006 09:19:33 PM Comments (0)

The 16 AFL clubs want $160 million extra from the league as their share of the game's broadcast rights bonanza.

They effectively are asking the AFL commission to fund all their base total player payments (TPP).

Saying the 16 clubs were in "total agreement", Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon said the only weak spot in the competition was the financial health of some teams.

The bid is for an extra $2 million per club per year during the new five-year rights deal.

That record TV agreement starts next year and it is worth $780 million.

"The only area of vulnerability at the moment when you look at the competition is the financial health of some of the clubs," Smorgon said.

"The 16 clubs said today `that needs addressing'.

"My view would be as long as the 16 clubs stay together and be united on this, then we've put forward a strong argument."

In essence, the clubs are saying they must be looked after first.

The league expects to generate at least $1.378 billion in revenue over the next five years, more than $450 million up on the current five-year period.

The meeting was part of the AFL's planning for the next five years and beyond.

Last month, the AFL met with the club chief executives and canvassed one widely-reported scenario where each team would receive only an extra $200,000 per year from the proceeds of the new broadcast deal.

"There was just a zero missing off the first figure," Smorgon said when asked about that initial sum.

It means the league potentially faces battles on two fronts over its long-term financial planning, with the clubs and also the players.

The AFL must finalise negotiations with the AFL Players' Association (AFLPA) by June over TPPs for 2007-08.

The AFLPA is also indicating it wants more than what the league might be prepared to give.

Commission chairman Ron Evans said he was not surprised by the push - effectively an ambit claim - from the clubs.

"The clubs presented today a scenario that they should have a greater proportion of the funds than perhaps we thought they should," Evans said.

"It's all a balancing act - if I was a club president, I was a long time ago, I would be seeking to ensure that."

Smorgon described the mood of the meeting with the AFL as "vigorous discussion, robust discussion, but a hearty exchange of views around the table as you expect."

The clubs' proposal to the league followed a meeting earlier today involving only the presidents.

Smorgon said there was "total agreement" at the initial meeting on four areas - unity on working together, the clubs expecting fair share of the revenue, continuation of equal annual distributions to the clubs and "total support" for a 16-team competition.

Currently, the league's annual distributions cover roughly $4.4 million of each club's $6.4 million base TPP.

This proposal, if successful, means the AFL would cover all the base TPP for each club per season.

Smorgon said 11 of the 16 clubs, including the Bulldogs, were losing money on their football operations.

The league will already cover any TPP increase that comes out of the negotiations in the next few weeks with the AFLPA.

Apart from the $2 million claim, the clubs also want more prizemoney from the league.

They want more information from the league about its proposed future fund, a new venture where the AFL would use some of the broadcast rights money to invest in football-related business.

"We agree with the concept of the future fund, but we need to understand more details and those details need to be mandated," Smorgon said.

The future fund idea is part of a financial options briefing that the league has circulated to the clubs, titled "Spend for today, invest for the future".

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