Gold Coast on solid footing: AFL boss - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gold Coast on solid footing: AFL boss

31/03/2009 08:03:44 PM Comments (0)

AFL boss Andrew Demetriou expects the Gold Coast Football Club (GCFC) to defy the global financial crisis and chequered history of previous expansion clubs to be self-sufficient within six years.

Demetriou says the league will not repeat past errors and the AFL will be doing everything it can to get the team off to a good start.

The licence for the GCFC to become the 17th team in the competition from 2011 was granted on Tuesday, conditional on funding commitments with the AFL being finalised.

It also hinges on the finalisation of funding for the redevelopment of Carrara Stadium and the agreement between the Queensland Government and Gold Coast City Council for the transfer of the land for the stadium.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh expects those issues to be wrapped up before the end of the week.

Demetriou expects the fledgling club to establish a firm footing quicker than previous expansions into the non-traditional AFL states.

Sydney took years to build crowds to viable levels and attain financial security when South Melbourne was relocated there in 1982.

The Brisbane Bears also had a dismal early history both on and off the field after they were established on the Gold Coast in 1987, before eventually moving to the Gabba and then merging with Fitzroy to become the Lions.

But Demetriou is confident there will be no replay of those scenarios - especially with the club having its own stadium.

"That makes a huge difference to their viability," he said.

"It costs a club somewhere between $25 to $30 million to run annually and we've done all our budgeting and all the modelling to get it right."

But he admitted there were no guarantees.

"Things happen - the world changes and who knows - but I think we've done everything humanly possible within our powers to get this model right, even in the face of the global financial crisis," he said.

But he wouldn't be drawn on local speculation that the team would be able to win their first flag within four seasons.

"They'll find their way - it's a hard competition and we've got clubs that haven't won a flag in Victoria for 50 years," he said.

But Bligh didn't hold back.

"I don't have to be diplomatic like Andrew - I reckon four years is a conservative estimate," she said.

Demetriou admitted some clubs were struggling financially at the moment but he believes the new GCFC will rise above the current economic downturn.

"We're committing at least $100 million to the club over the next six years and we're contributing another $100 million to the development of football in Queensland," he said.

Bligh is upbeat about the new team's ability to pull fans out of Melbourne to watch their teams play on the Gold Coast in the middle of July.

"We want them to bring their families up to watch the game, to go to a theme park and a beach and spend as much money as they can while they're up here," she said.

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