KG Cunningham's article from The Advertiser (10/6/2011) on the AFL threat...
Let me strike some real fear into your hearts and minds. We could be on the brink of losing the SANFL, the competition that we've loved for 140 years, to the AFL juggernaut. The very future of our home-grown competition has been put under severe pressure by the turmoil at Port Adelaide. My biggest worry now is that when the AFL hands over its fat cheque for $9 million to bail out broke and hapless Port Adelaide, it's going to come with strings attached. Our financial crisis has opened the door for the AFL to flex its muscle and a make a move to take control of the game here, which is something it has wanted to do for many years.
When Andrew Demetriou and Mike Fitzpatrick sit down with the SANFL's Leigh Whicker and John Olsen to thrash out the deal in Melbourne today, you can bet your last dollar they'll be laying down some stringent conditions.
They will want something in return for their money and high on their wish list will be a stronger say on the governance of football here.
The AFLSA? God forbid!
And if they do get their way, I expect the slash and burn to begin, with key targets the player development fund and a reduction in the SANFL's salary cap which sits at a very modest $353,000.
It's a drop in the ocean compared with the AFL's massive $8.21 million cap and even that is certain to rise in the wake of of the new $1.2 billion TV rights deal.
With an average AFL player earning $240,000 a year, the SANFL cap for one team is the equivalent of 1.5 AFL players. That is a huge disparity.
Since 1995 the AFL’s development grant has risen a paltry 25 per cent. In the same period, its salary cap has lept an astronomical 300 per cent.
Unlike the AFL, most SANFL footballers also hold down full-time jobs so a diminished local salary cap would see players who’ve missed the AFL bus chasing the more lucrative pay cheques as a marquee signing with regional clubs.
Despite all that’s going on at Alberton, the SANFL is in good shape and remains the second-best footy competition in the nation.
Last year, all the clubs turned in a profit for the first time in living memory.
The clubs run on the smell of an oily rag, with each employing an average six to eight full-time staff.
They’d lose money if they had to rely solely on their football operation, so it speaks volumes of their management structures that they can generate other income streams through corporate backing and fundraising.
Why should we allow anyone to tamper with and dismantle a model that’s working brilliantly?
I urge both Leigh Whicker and John Olsen to fight tooth and nail to resist any decision that would further weaken the SANFL’s financial position and that of its nine clubs. Don’t send SA footy down the gurgler. And don’t allow us to become the AFL’s puppets.