Jake Niall describes the differences between Australian football and Soccer at a cost level, and says that the AFL has a distinct advantage in The Age.
But there was a minor minus – a small cough – when we received an invoice for the season’s fees. It was just under $600 for a season with the under 12s. This is a touch steep. I don’t mind paying it and can comfortably afford the slug, but this led me to wonder how the soccer economy operated, because I know parents, such as my soccer-inclined Somali neighbours, whom I’m sure would struggle to find that kind of money for one, much less for five kids.
Friends whose boys and girls play for the local junior footy club, by comparison, pay a uniform fee of $250. This is pretty typical for a junior footy team, which even if they are entirely self-sustaining, don’t have to subsidise higher levels of the sport or fund the senior club. If a family can’t afford the $250, this local footy club quietly offer a discount.
To play for another nearby junior soccer club – not my daughter’s – requires a serious investment. One parent I spoke with, Vince, is forking out $1100 for his son’s registration, the fee for most under 12s at this higher-echelon club. If his kid was assigned to the lowest of the three under-12 tiers it would still cost $800 per season. If you don’t cut the mustard and make the single “elite” squad after under 12s, you have no choice – despite the money spent – than to leave and join a less-competitive “community” club.
Soccer is bottom-up, footy top-down, in terms of the money trail. If you progress upwards on footy’s pathways – eg TAC Cup – the fees remain moderate, at $300-$400, because the coaching and infrastructure is funded by the AFL.
Football Federation Australia, conversely, receives about 10 per cent of its funding from underneath, but relies on the modest $40 million it gets from television – a fraction of the AFL’s hundreds of millions.
This doesn’t mean that Vince’s son’s dues are paying Kevin Muscat’s salary – the Melbourne Victory seem relatively solvent. No, a small amount is travelling to head office, which is providing props for some A-League teams. But as an FFA insider explained, the real concern is that SOME – by no means most – junior teams have to subside their cash-thirsty senior clubs. FFA reckons the average cost of junior registration, nationwide, is $160 for juniors and $240 for seniors. Only $12 goes from each junior registered to FFA ($23 per senior rego), but soccer’s state bodies also grab some cash – estimated by one insider as about $50 per registration.