Etihad Stadium wants 10-year AFL deal - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Etihad Stadium wants 10-year AFL deal

By Roger Vaughan 06/08/2009 07:23:34 PM Comments (0)

Etihad Stadium's owners want a 10-year extension to their user agreement with the AFL in return for better club deals.

Stadium chief executive Ian Collins has finally broken his silence on the dispute with the league, which centres on the deals that home clubs have with the venue.

He issued a media release soon after a Victorian Supreme Court decision on Thursday morning, which granted the AFL access to sensitive stadium documents.

The league has taken the stadium to court over its naming right sponsorship agreement with Etihad.

But the biggest disagreement between the league and Etihad Stadium management is over the club deals.

Some Victorian clubs say their arrangements with Etihad Stadium and the MCG are financially crippling and the AFL decided last year to start lobbying the venues on their behalf.

Until now, Collins had been careful not to comment publicly.

"Like the MCG, Etihad Stadium has significant debt and servicing costs, in contrast to the AFL which has no debt and $16 million in a 'future fund'," Collins said.

"We have been a good and responsive partner for the AFL and its clubs and have recognised that the circumstances of the competition will change over the life of a long-term contract in ways that might merit review from time to time.

"We have also demonstrated in the past that we are willing to agree to variations and support clubs where the AFL offers a reasonable exchange of value.

"The Stadium owners would certainly be willing to offer increased value to the AFL and the clubs if the user agreement was extended for 10 years - as is proposed for the MCG."

Collins added Etihad Stadium and the MCG were "genuinely sympathetic" to the financial plight of Victorian clubs.

He argued that the league was ignoring several facts when complaining about match returns from the two venues.

Collins said Etihad Stadium would not have opened without an AFL contract and that the league will take over ownership of the ground in 2025.

He said the current owners were seeking a fair return for their investment.

"Gate receipts have reduced in recent years in part because of increased club membership, which means that the value of match attendance is delivered to clubs in different ways," Collins said.

"It is open to the AFL to provide higher returns to clubs from matches at Etihad Stadium out of revenue the AFL derives from media rights and advertising at the stadium and from recognition of the present day value of its future ownership of the stadium.

"It is also open to the AFL to negotiate variations to the user agreement which has been done from time to time.

"The stadium owners have made it clear that they are prepared to consider, as they have in the past, any reasonable proposal which offers mutual benefits and value for money."

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