Demetriou says GWS doing well - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demetriou says GWS doing well

Greg Buckle 22/07/2011 06:19:07 PM Comments (0)

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou says he has no fears about the NRL pumping increased TV-rights money into protecting their heartland against competition from the AFL.

The AFL's expansion into rugby league's traditional markets has continued in 2011 with the launch of the the Gold Coast Suns.

Greater Western Sydney will make their AFL debut next year, coached by legendary Essendon premiership mentor Kevin Sheedy.

The national draft will also be held at Homebush in November and GWS will receive a raft of concessions.

"On balance we're really pleased with the way GWS are going," a bullish Demetriou told SEN Radio on Friday.

"They are hitting all their targets with things like sponsorship and so forth and signing up members and some of their commercial arrangements.

"They've got some young kids coming through and they'll get the pick of the draft.

"Their greatest challenge is to try to win the hearts and minds of young people in the greater west of Sydney and families."

NRL club bosses were briefed on Thursday on a new broadcast agreement that could outstrip the AFL's $1.25 billion deal.

Demetriou baulked at giving a view on whether the AFL's rights were more valuable than those of the NRL.

"There's no doubt lots of people watch the NRL. The State of Origin numbers are extraordinary," he said.

"The significant difference between our game and the NRL game is we play in every state and territory.

"The NRL is played in two states primarily with a game in Melbourne.

"That will be their challenge. But it's not a competition."

Demetriou said he wasn't expecting the cashed-up NRL to suddenly start investing heavily in promotions in the western Sydney market.

"I already think they are doing that," the AFL chief said.

"They don't need to get a financial windfall from the rights to do that.

"They are in there working very hard in their heartland.

"This is not about taking the NRL on.

"This is about creating opportunities for a new group of people."

Demetriou said greater western Sydney housed Australia's most diverse population, with over 200 languages spoken.

The AFL boss also defended the lucrative pay-packets for NRL recruits Karmichael Hunt (Gold Coast) and Israel Folau (GWS).

"He (Folau) will be paid to play football what the average player will be paid," Demetriou said.

"He gets an additional amount of money because of his marketing capabilities.

"It has already paid for itself 10 times over based on the exposure and the publicity and what has actually happened as a result.

"Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt have no doubt influenced our ability now to be in private schools in New South Wales and Queensland.

"They've also attracted a number of young lads and also islanders into our game.

"We like to think our game is an inclusive game."

Demetriou shrugged off concerns GWS would struggle to attract big crowds against battling clubs like Port Adelaide.

"We average 37-odd thousand to our games. We are blessed to be able to pull 85,000 to a Carlton-Collingwood game," Demetriou said.

"If we get 20,000, there are other codes that would die to get 20,000."

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