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We won't be second to World Cup: AFL CEO

By Roger Vaughan 18/03/2010 09:56:05 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has warned that the league will not take a back step to soccer if Australia hosts the World Cup.

In a speech at Thursday night's official season launch, Demetriou has made it clear that the AFL will not let soccer dictate terms if the bid to host the cup is successful.

Earlier this week, Demetriou told a meeting with Australia's other football codes and the federal government that Etihad Stadium was off limits for the World Cup bid.

"Over the coming years we'll also have to confront a changing sporting landscape in Australia, we have to be ready for the possibility of the World Cup," he said.

"The AFL has always said we are happy to accommodate major sporting events, we have a track record to prove it.

"But we do not - and will not - accept second place for Australian football.

"We welcome other sports and major events, but we won't allow seven million fans to be deprived of Australia's indigenous game, nor put at risk the jobs of so many associated with our game."

Demetriou also said the league was not obsessed with how much money it will earn from the upcoming television rights agreement, but was more concerned with what it can do with the expected financial bonanza.

The league will probably earn at least $1 billion from the next five-year agreement, which will start in 2012.

"This new agreement, when it's finalised, will underpin the future of the competition and be invested back into the game and the generations to come," Demetriou said.

"This is a critical point that sometimes gets overlooked by those fascinated by dollar signs.

"As a community organisation, the AFL is not driven by the money generated by broadcast rights.

"What drives us is the impact this revenue can have when re-invested in our clubs, supporters, facilities,volunteers and better career paths and opportunities to attract the best athletes."

On Wednesday, Demetriou raised the possibility of a top-nine finals format once the league expands to an 18-team competition.

The top eight currently make the finals, but the league is conducting a wide-ranging review of the competition ahead of the entry of Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney by 2012.

"When we have 18 teams, are we going to have 22 rounds? Are we going to have 23 or 24?," Demetriou told Channel Ten.

"What will the bye look like next year? Do we have a final eight or final nine? Are the finals four weeks or five weeks? We don't know.

"We would be remiss if we were not looking at all options.

"We have a top eight with 16 teams and that's 50 per cent of the teams - 18 teams, a top nine is 50 per cent of the teams, that's one way of looking at it."

Demetriou also defended his hefty $1.8 million salary, which the AFL revealed on Tuesday.

"It has a bonus component where I have to achieve certain requirements - if I don't ... I don't earn that," he said.

"I think that's fair, ultimately I'm judged by the remuneration committee and I can't ask for a fairer process than that."

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