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The Adelaide Football Club

The Adelaide Football Club is a professional Australian Rules football club, based in Adelaide. The club presently trains at West Lakes, and plays its home matches at Adelaide Oval. It was founded in 1990, and its nickname is the Crows.

Adelaide Football Club

  • Nickname: The Crows
  • Colours: Red, Yellow and Blue
  • Home Ground: Adelaide Oval
  • Training facility: West Lakes
  • Foundation date: October 12, 1990
  • Premierships: 2 (1997, 1998)

Timeline of Entry to the Australian Football League

An Adelaide Football Club was a member of the South Australian Football Association in the early days of South Australian Football, however this club folded before the turn of the 20th century and is not connected to the present AFL club.

  • 1981 – June 12. A meeting of the SANFL directors resolves to pout a submission for the Adelaide Football club to join the VFL. (The SA Football Story pg 116)
  • 1981 – June 11-17. VFL Directors decide that they would consider approaches from South Australia after a week of talks between senior VFL directors and the SANFL General Manager, Don roach.
  • 1982 – December 10. VFL Commissioner says that applications had been recieved from WA, SA, and the ACT. The article quotes Hamilton as saying that the ACT would almost certainly be represented in the VFL in future.
  • 1984 – May 17. Bob Ansett (North president) says that a national competition was needed to ensure the survival of the VFL after reports emerged that several clubs were considering forming a breakaway competition.
  • 1984 – June 15. WA Football Commissioner appraches the SANFL to discuss entering the VFL at the same time, but leaves under the impression the SANFL arent interested (Headliners – Birth of the West Coast Eagles)
  • 1984 – September 13. The WAFL says its ready to join the VFL, but wants composite teams not individuals. Elliot was reported to have talked to Swan District and Claremont. The SANFL condemned the VFL for keeping it in the dark.
  • 1985, October 30. The Age reports that ‘the VFL was at great pains to say it is proposing an expansion of the existing competition to include interstate teams and not a national league’. (Behind the Play pg 198)
  • 1985, Nov 6. Adams delivers his report. Major recommendations include a 12 team competition – eight from Victoria, two from Adelaide and 1 from Perth and Sydney. (Soaring, pg 12)
  • 1985, November 7. The NFL releases its own play for a national compeition, with a 12 team structure featuring 9 teams from Melbourne and one each from Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. It also proposed an independent form of administration rather than the VFL’s Melbourne centrered power base”. The WAFL supports the NFL option, going so far as to send its CEO to talk to Macquarie Bank in Sydney about getting $100 million to float a competition, with six Melbourne clubs saying they’d break away. (Behind the Play pg 198)
  • 1986, February. Executives from the SANFL, WAFL and VFL meet to establish the format of a new competition. (Behind the Play pg 200)
  • 1986, Feb 7. WAFL Chairman Roy Annear states that he sees a national competition as essential to football in Australia, WA had to be represented and it had to be with a composite team. (soaring pg 12)
  • 1986, July 31. The VFL reaffirms its commitment to a national competition in 1987, with a preference for a team from Brisbane. The league was uncertain as to whether teams from SA or WA would be involved. (Behind the Play pg 202) (A Bear is Born)
  • 1986 – August 7. SA and WA say they will reconsider joining the national competition after the VFL voted to retain all 12 clubs in the league. WA and SA had been working under the belief that there were be some rationalisation and the league would be composed of 12 clubs and not 14.
  • 1986 – August 11. SANFL Directors unanimously vote against joining the VFL in 1987, citing a need for rationalisation of the Victorian clubs, and saying that the financial equation didnt work after being required to pay a 4 million license fee by the VFL.
  • 1986 – October 20. The VFL meets with the SANFLs Bob Lee and Leigh Whicker to discuss a composite team, or relocating a Victorian club. (The Phoenix Rises pg. 78)
  • 1989 -February 2. Ross Oakley announces talks to commence with the SANFL over an SA VFL license.
  • 1990. May. The SANFL hold a conference in Victor Harbour. The clubs accept a SANFL proposal not to join the AFL before 1993. Port Adelaides representative, Dave Boyd, voted for this proposal. (From Port to a Power pg 46)
  • 1990 – May. The SANFL tells the AFL that it would “consider” entering a team in the AFL competition in 1993, “subject to there not being more than 14 clubs—nor would it pay a licence fee” (The Phoenix Rises pg 155)
  • 1990. July 3. Ports Ian Mckenzie calls Alan Schwab at the VFL and invites him to be guest speaker at the club. (Crows 1991 Yearbook)
  • 1990 – July 5. Alan Schwab is told by Bruce Weber that Port Adelaide is willing to have a crack at the AFL. (Football limited pg 349)
  • 1990. July 6 – Port Adelaide board members are advised by Bruce Weber of discussions he’d held with AFL Commissioner Alan Schwab.(From Port to a Power pg 48)
  • 1990 – July 7. First meetings between Port Adelaide and the AFL at AFL House (Football limited pg. 349) The proposed deal included no fee for joining the AFL and Port would keep its development zone. (Bruce Weber, From Port to a Power pg 47)
  • 1990 – July 30. Port Adelaide sign Heads of Agreement with the AFL. (Football limited pg. 350) The Agreement apparently allowed Port to wear black and white with minor changes for games against Collingwood .(From Port to a Power pg 65-66)
  • 1990 – August 1. Port Adelaide announces its intention to join the AFL.
  • 1990 – August 2. Nine SANFL Clubs have a crisis meeting. Amongst the options are a counter submission to the AFL, and kicking Port out of the SANFL. The SANFL announces that Port will not be allowed to use Football Park for AFL games (From Port to a Power, pg 68)
  • 1990 – August 3. The SANFL unanimously voted to kick Port out of the SANFL if it proceeded with its AFL plans. Eleven SANFL officials fly to Melourne to lobby against Port Adelaides entry into the AFL. (from Port to a Power pg 68)
  • 1990 – August 6. Oakley says that the AFL should stop waiting for a SANFL application and accept Port Adelaide. The SANFL makes its first counter-offer. The AFL declines to accept. (from Port to a Power pg 70)
  • 1990 – August 6. Port Adelaide informs its members that it has an agreement with the AFL.
  • 1990 – August 12. Glenelg wins an injunction against Port Adelaide. Justice Olssen prohibits Port from having further contact with the AFL, but doest prohibit the SANFL from talking to the AFL. (from Port to a Power pg 68)
  • 1990. August 20. The SANFL launches its own AFL bid. (Crows 1991 Yearbook)
  • 1990 – September 12. The AFL reported to be seriously looking at a SANFL offer for a composite side.(From Port to a Power pg 71)
  • 1990 – August 25. Port Director, Dave Boyd, resigns over the clubs AFL application.
  • 1990 – September 13. Max Basheer says that he is almost certain there will be a SANFL side in the AFL for 1991. Sometime about now, it is leaked that Norwood had also been prepared to breakaway. (Football Limited pg. 351)
  • 1990, September 19. SANFL officially announces its intention to apply for a licens (Pride of South Australia, pg 10)
  • 1990 – September 20. The AFL Board of Directors formally votes in favour of the SANFL composite application. Only Richmond vote against. The AFL pays $125,000 for Ports legal costs, and the SANFL are required to drop all legal action against Port Adelaide. (From Port to a Power pg 73)
  • 1990. October 9. The SANFL and AFL formally sign an agreement for Adelaide to enter the competition. (Crows 1991 Yearbook)
  • 1990, October 11. SANFL and AFL agree to and finalise terms. (Pride of South Australia, pg 10)
  • 1990. October 12. The SANFL appoints an interim board for Adelaide. It included Max Basheer, Leigh Whicker, Bob Lee, Ed Betro, Bob Hammond, Ric allert and Adrian Salter. Graham Cornes was apponted coach and Neil Kerley football manager. (Crows 1991 Yearbook)
  • 1990, October 25. Adelaide announces an initial squad of 57, later increased to 61, before finally being set at 52. (Crows 1991 Yearbook)
  • 1990, November 28. AFL approves name, guernsey and logo. (Pride of South Australia, pg 13)
  • 1991, February 13. SANFL and AFL sign license agreement. (Pride of South Australia, pg 10). Board queries the fact that 90% of the clubs operating surplus had to be returned to the SANFL – this was adjusted to 80%. (Pride of South Australia, pg 14)
  • 1991, February 20. Here we go theme adopted on a temporary basis, subject to Toyota approval. (Pride of South Australia, pg 14)


The Adelaide Football Club was a 100% subsidary of the SANFL until 2014, at which point control of its board was changed to the Australian Football League as part of a deal that would see it pay off its own license and have control over itself by October 31, 2028 – the Development Grant Completion Date.

The Club is a public company Limited by Guarantee and a not for profit body.

Under section 22.1 of the Adelaide constitution the Board will consist of at least 7, but not more than 9 directors (including a CEO if they are on the board).

The Board is comprised of 2 Directors elected by the members, with the remainder appointed by the AFL following consultation with and nominations from the nominations committee.

More information on this can be found in the Adelaide Football Club Limited Constitution


From 1991 through to 2013, the Adelaide Crows played at Aami Stadium. This was in part due to a contract the AFL had with the SANFL that forbid ANY AFL matches being played anywhere outside Aami Park.

Adelaide Oval

In late 2012, the AFL, SANFL and SACA all reached agreement on the terms for an Adelaide Oval upgrade that would see Adelaide move its home matches to the more centrally located location. The deal included payments that Adelaide had to make to secure its own license. The move was finally made in 2014 when the upgraded venue opened.

In 2014, it was reported that both Adelaide AFL clubs were seeking match returns of 70c for every dollar banked at Adelaide Oval. It was reportedly about 44-50 cents.

In March 2015, the cluib announced it had reached a new formal agreement on revenue sharing at the Oval. The model provides the AFL clubs with new revenues and inventory to enable them to share an estimated additional $3.1m in 2015, rising to $4.1m in both 2016 and 2017. 

The main points of the agreement include

  • Rewarding clubs for driving attendances through attendance bonuses (the higher the crowd, the higher the return to the clubs);
  • Providing the clubs with additional reserved seating income and corporate inventory; 
  • Delivering incentives for playing home finals at Adelaide Oval;     
  • Protecting the SANFL’s ability to continue to drive game development in South Australia.

Thebarton Oval

After years of attempts to build a new training facility closer to Adelaide Oval, including taking over the Adelaide Swimming Centre, the Crows were eventually given council approval to take over Thebarton Oval. On 19 December 2023 at a special Council meeting, the Elected Council approved Adelaide Football Club’s (AFC) Thebarton Oval Precinct Masterplan, along with the development deed and the terms of the lease. AFC has now lodged plans with the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) to develop the Thebarton site.

The City of West Torrens has granted the Crows a 42-year lease for Thebarton Oval and an adjoining area encompassing part of Kings Reserve – which include an option to extend for an additional 42 years.

The lease of the Precinct, which includes part of Kings Reserve, will enable the Club to redevelop the area for its home grounds and provide the community with more usable community space.

The AFC developed a Master Plan which identified a number of elements to the community including:

  • removal of barriers to activate community spaces
  • preservation of pedestrian and cycling accessibility
  • a unified community precinct approach
  • enablement of community-based facilities
  • improving the existing sporting infrastructure
  • allowing for passive recreation.


At the end of the 2023 Season, Adelaide had the following support on social media

  • 283,000 Facebook Followers
  • 176,000 Instagram Followers
  • 158,000 Twitter Followers
  • 91,000 Tik tok followers

The Annual Roy Morgan Survey puts the Crows in at 6th for Cub support in 2023 with 676,000 people.


From their inception, the Crows were a membership powerhouse. From 1991 through to 2008, the Club was consistently top of the league membership tables, before Hawthorn took advantage of its premiership window to pass them in 2009.

  • The Crows were the first club to reach 30,000 members in 1992 – and were the only club to do so until 1997 when they were joined by both Port Adelaide and West Coast.
  • In 1993, the Crows were the first club to reach 40,000 members – a mark they held on their own for a decade before Collingwood finally made 40,000 in 2003.
  • In 2006, the Crows became the first club to reach 50,000 members, but only managed to keep the crowd for three years until the Hawks went past them in 2009.
  • The Crows passed 60,000 members in 2018, but had fallen back toi the pack – they were one of 8 clubs to reach the mark that year, well behind the Tigers with 100,000 members.


Adelaide came onto the scene with a bang, averaging 40,000 at home in its first year – with only Collingwood reaching over 30,000 at the time. Their hold on the attendance crowd was shortlived as Collingwood did manage to beat them in 1992 reaching a 50,000 average



  • Highest non final home crowd: 53,141 v Geelong at Adelaide Oval, Round 8, 2016
  • Highest non Grand Final crowd: 65,930 v Collingwood at the MCG, Round 15, 2022
  • Highest home finals crowd: 53,817 v Geelong, Prelimninary Final, 2017
  • Highest Finals Crowd: 100,021 v Richmond, Grand Final, 2017

Lowest (excludes 2020-2021)

  • Lowest home crowd: 22,859 v West Coast, Adelaide Oval, R12, 2022.
  • Lowest Crowd: 4,603 v Brisbane, Carrara, R21, 1992.

More details at AFLtables.

TV Ratings

The 2018 AFL Grand Final national average audience (metropolitan and regional) of 3.39 million (3,386,253) on the Seven Network was fve per cent down on the 3.56 million who tuned into the 2017 Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and Richmond.  The combined five mainland capital city metropolitan audience of 2,609,707 viewers for the 2018 AFL Grand Final made it the most-watched program on metropolitan free-to-air television in 2018.


Adelaide games featured in the top 10 AFL broadcast games for the season.

  • 7. Round 3 – Adelaide Crows v Geelong Cats – 1.133 million
  • 9. Round 2 – Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows – 1.096 million
  • 10. Round 15 – Geelong Cats v Adelaide Crows – 1.089 million

In Adelaide, the highest rating game was Round 8s Showdown with 187,000 viewers. The second Showdown rated only 4th with 170,000 viewers. A total of 8.28 million viewers watched the AFL in Adelaide in 2019 at an average of 92,000 viewers per game. Viewers watched Crows games at an average of 133,000 per game, while Power games averaged 105,000. Matches featuring neither side rated an average of just over 70,000 per game. Foxtel viewership in Adelaide in 2017 averaged 21,000 per game.

Adelaide finished the season in the top 5 AFL clubs on Foxtel.


In Adelaide, the citys ratings tanked in 2020, down 16% on 2019 to 80,000 viewers per game. AFL Minor Premiers Port Adelaide scored the bragging rights this year with an average audience of 101,000, while the Crows managed 86,000 on their home screens on Seven


The Crows AFLW FInal v Melbourne was the second most watched of the year with 187,000 viewers, while its match against the Bulldogs rated 51,000 in Adelaide.

Adelaides male teamw had 87 games shown on Free to Air Television in 2021 on Seven and 7mate, with an aggregate audiences  of 6.48m at an average of 74,000 per match. The Showdowns were the highest rating games in the city during the season with Round 8 rating 151,000 and Round 21 ratings 150,000. Crows games averaged 86,000, while Port games averaged 93,000.


In Adelaide the overall FTA average was 77,000 on Seven, but the Crows averaged 85,000 viewers, while the Power averaged 91,000. Both Adelaide sides were in the bottom half of the leagues ratings with the Power coming in 12th, Adelaide 16th. In 2021, Crows games averaged 86,000, while Port games averaged 93,000.

The most watched game in Adelaide was the first showdown with 190,000 viewers. The most watched female game in Adelaide was also a showdown and watched by 63,000 viewers


In Adelaide, the Crows averaged 94,000 a game (+10%), while the Power averaged 87,000 (-4%). The Showdowns rated 150,000 and 143,000, although the Crows/Blues round 5 magic round opener splt the two at 148,000. Games involving neither Adelaide side rated an average 68,000.


The clubs finances appear to have had an upswing with the 2014 move to Adelaide Oval. Especially in the Season ticketing and Sponsorship departments, where they are amongst the leagues leaders.

Jason Lassey

Ive been collecting and publishing Sports related crowd, financial, and ratings data here and on twitter for about 12 years.

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