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Plan to 'bombproof' AFL Kangaroos

By Robert Grant 05/02/2008 03:16:27 PM Comments (0)

Ricky Ponting will be a key figure in a North Melbourne travelling roadshow aimed at raising $8 million to help financially "bomb-proof" the AFL club for the next 50 years.

The Kangaroos on Tuesday announced telecommunications giant Vodafone as a major sponsor for this season, a key weapon in their fight to remain in Melbourne.

With North's arsenal to ward off AFL relocation bids to the Gold Coast growing, club chairman James Brayshaw said the next step would begin as soon as the season starts.

"That's when I start heading around the country with (Australian Test captain and passionate Kangaroos supporter) Ricky Ponting and (club legend) Glenn Archer and raising money, which is not going to be an easy thing to do," Brayshaw said.

He said the plan was to secure loans from corporations, businesses and even individuals, rather than donations.

"What we're asking is for people to give us access to their money for 10 years," he said.

"So it's not a donation, which it's been in the past, a bottomless pit style of donation.

"We're saying to high network individuals and groups and people and basically anyone who wants to help us, 'you lend us the money, we'll use it to raise revenue and capital over the next 10 years and then at the end of that you get it back'.

"That is the thing over the next 10 years that is going to bomb-proof this club for the next 50 years.

"The X-factor for us, the circuit-breaker if you like, is to get this capital raising to a point where it bomb-proofs us from a bad membership year or a bad attendance year or, heaven forbid, a bad on-field year."

Brayshaw said his plan was to raise $8 million this year and increase the sum to $10 million by 2010.

"That would go a long way towards making sure that this club's around in 2050," he said.

North have already seen positive signs with a massive increase in membership since they narrowly staved off an AFL proposal last year to relocate to the Gold Coast.

"One of the things we never knew was how good the membership response was going to be - it's 19,500 now which is close to 9,000 more than this time last year," Brayshaw said.

"It's been overwhelming but we've got to keep pushing. We've got to get it up to 30,000 - if we get to 30 and keep them it's a huge statement."

He has also met coach Dean Laidley's plea for more money for the football department, with the figure increasing by $750,000 to $1 million.

"We need that, we need an elite facility and we need to fully fund our footy department if we're going to compete with the Geelongs and the Collingwoods in Melbourne, let alone what the interstate clubs are doing," said Brayshaw.

North was out to become profitable and prove it belonged in Melbourne, he said.

"We've got to show that everyone in the AFL community can be confident that we are a much better run organisation.

"We've got to be as good off the field as we've been on it," Brayshaw said.

North are aiming for a profit this year of between $1 million and $1.5 million.

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