AFL stands by struggling Bulldogs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL stands by struggling Bulldogs

By Guy Hand 01/07/2004 06:34:26 PM Comments (0)

The AFL says it won't give up on the struggling Western Bulldogs despite an alarming drop in the club's membership figures this year.

The AFL's poorest club has bucked the trend of a league-wide membership record in 2004, with figures released Thursday showing the Bulldogs' membership is 9 per cent down on last year.

While total membership of the 16 AFL clubs is up 7.6 per cent to just under 500,000 and 12 clubs had higher numbers than in 2003, the Bulldogs slumped below 20,000 members.

Only 19,295 signed up as members despite the cash-strapped club's regular appeals for supporters to get behind them.

But AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said the competition needed the Bulldogs and the league would continue to support the club, which he said was doing all it could to improve its position.

"I don't want to paint a dark picture (for the Bulldogs) - it just reinforces how hard it is for the Bulldogs," Demetriou said.

"They're working exceptionally hard in a tough environment, they work closely with us and they've turned their financial position around.

"The Bulldogs will probably lose less money than the Melbourne Football Club, the Richmond Football Club and probably the Carlton Football Club."

"I think the Bulldogs are not that far away from returning profits - I don't think they're that far away from turning it around."

The Western Bulldogs have been on AFL welfare - handouts from the league's competitive balance fund - for the past two years.

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