AFL Clubs and the WAFL

Fremantle, West Coast and the WAFL

WAFL clubs recently voted no as well, rejecting the latest suggestion by the Eagles and Dockers to take their players out of the league for the first 6 weeks of the season, and emphatically refusing to allow AFL expansion into the WAFL.

West Coast and Fremantle had originally given a 52 page proposal in June 2011 allowing for payments of 125,000 per WAFL team paid as a license, compensation payments to cover the loss of AFL players, and additional bar, gate and signage revenue.

The proposal also included a means to recruit up to 10 top up players, none of which would come from established WAFL lists, instead coming from country leagues, interstate or non WAFL listed metro players.

When the first proposal was rejected, West Coast and Fremantle presented a second option in December 2011, allowing for payments to teams who beat the AFL clubs reserves on their WAFL bye. In this model the AFL clubs reserves would not play in the WAFL at all, but would play WAFL teams on their week off and paying them an additional $15,000 if they defeated the AFL reserves side in question.

At the June 2012 presidents meeting, The WAFL presidents rejected all of the following suggestions

  • two stand alone teams in the WAFL
  • playing scratch matches during WAFL byes
  • WAFL club alignments – and threatened boycotts against clubs who would

At one point the WAFL presidents were insisting that each AFL club pay a 1.35 million annual license fee (Victorian AFL clubs pay $230,000) to have a reserves team.

South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt was quoted in the West Australian on June 30th 2012 as saying that it was time to say no once and for all.

“The WAFL clubs are together on this. We are 100 per cent united. This has been going back and forth for more than a year without any substance and it is time to say that it is over.”

The West Australian revealed on July 14th, that SAIL, a south african sporting company had tried to by 49% of West Coast in the early 90s, an attempt which was ultimately rejected by the WAFC and West Coast.

The article in the West Australian on July 14, 2012 also indicates that the AFL is intent on pushing its case for the WAFL to relinquish its licenses the next time they meet. The paper also believes such a deal is iminent with the SA clubs.

On July 25th, the West Australian reported that professional negotiators had been brought in to handle the stand off between the WAFL clubs and AFL clubs over the issue of AFL reserves.

“The future of both our clubs  depends on the strength of all our players and not just the 22 playing AFL. This is not something that is going to go away,” West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett.

The WAFL clubs havent changed position either, and its understood that there wont be a quick resolution with club chiefs predicting a 3 month process, but expecting that the two sides will come to a mutually acceptable agreement.

On July 31st, the West Australian reported that the WAFL and AFL groups had a meeting which both sides categorised as positive.

“It was a good discussion and it was good for all of the parties to hear directly from each other. There was good recognition of the needs of the AFL clubs – to have their players training and playing together. But there was also good recognition that any change needs to enhance the WAFL.” – WAFL Chairman Frank Cooper

On August 24th, the West Australian reported that both Fremantle and West Coast would take advantage of an AFL Commission visit to Perth to push for control of their licenses. The WAFC maintains a position that the license can only change hands as long as the revenue stream remains unchanged. The Article puts AFl contributions to the WAFL at 1.8 million a year, but says this amount is reduced by transfer fees.

West Coash Chairman Alan Cransberg said he was keen to remove the middle man between his club and the AFL.

“We are very keen to have a direct licence with the AFL. Every other club does and the South Australian clubs are heading that way. Most of our dealings are done  direct with the AFL and from an  efficiency and bureaucracy point of view, we think it is better to have a direct licence arrangement with the AFL.”

WAFC Chairman Frank Cooper says the WAFC sees no real need for change at this time.

“The WAFC firmly believes that the integrated football structure in Western Australia has worked well for this State for two decades and has contributed greatly to the growth of all levels of footy, including community, club and the pathway via the WAFL to the AFL.”

On August 28th, the West Australian and WA today reported that Andrew Demetriou had said the AFL could not order any change to the license structure of the WA clubs, despite the desire of both West Coast and Fremantle, as well as the AFL to remove the clubs from the shadow of the WAFC. He also said there was no specific time frame for it to happen.

“This is a decision for WA and WA football,” he said. “It is something the AFL does not seek to impose on WA football. These aren’t our licences.

What was clearly stated by  everyone around the room is that first and foremost everyone’s priority is to continue the investment in the game in this State.

Whatever happens with the  licences will be done collaboratively and will be done with the best  interests of West Australian football at heart. There is no time line on it and we will work through with the football commission and the two clubs if we can offer any assistance.”

On September 29th, The Sunday Times reported that the Dockers were considering a host club in Peel Thunder, with Peel saying they would welcome it as long as they retained their identity. The Times reports that a return to the host club system could not occur before 2014.

On October 16th, The West Australian reported that the WAFC will pitch the idea of returning to host clubs for the 2014 season. Speculation is that the WAFC may greenlight East Perth-Eagles, and Peel-Fremantle. East Perth didnt comment, and Peel said they had not seen a proposal yet.

“We are waiting for the commission to put a proposal to us. We have heard the  rumours like everyone else has but all we can do is wait to see what line the commission takes on this.”

– Peel Thunder President, John Ditchburn

On October 31, the issue of reserves appeared settled, with The Age and The West Australian reporting that West Coast will be taking an alignment with East Perth, and Fremantle taking one with Peel. The new deals will take place from 2014 and will see both clubs pay $450 a season, while non aligned WAFL clubs will receive an increase in their funding (up from $425,000 – $525,000). Peel and East Perth will receive $350,000. The deals also allow for West Coast and Fremantle to have final say over coaching appointments to their aligned clubs.

“I hope (this alignment) is going to be in place forever and a day. This looks like a sustainable model – a model that can help the other (WAFL) clubs.” – Trevor Nesbitt

The new alignments bring the WA clubs into line with most Victorian clubs and their alignments with the VFL.

On November 1, however, the West Australian reported that the WAFL clubs were holding a meeting to thrash out the details as they had not expected any deal to be finalised and expected more consultation.

“They were expecting we would come back with a proposal that would then go into a further consulting phase” – Frank Cooper

The Article also quoted the WAFL Council of Presidents, Hayden Raitt, as saying

“It did get a rough reception but we are meeting on Friday to  short list the things that we believe they missed and resubmit them.

At the end of the day, the commission can do it without our consent anyway and we could end up with nothing.

I think we will all have a look at it from a sensible point of view. The commission has done rather a good job, they have just missed out some smaller detail. I think they tried to put a good deal to the WAFL and to help the WAFL”

The Saga continued on November 2 with The West Australian reporting that the Council of WAFL presidents were deeply dissatisfied with the WAFC accusing them of ignoring due process, having a lack of integrity and respect for the WAFL. The WAFL clubs would also like a limit placed on the number of AFL listed players that can play at any one time. The Council issued a statement that included:

“Due process has clearly not been followed and we now question the lack of transparency, accountability and openness in the decision making of the WAFL. In addition, the COP has lost confidence in the senior administration of the WAFC, including the football affairs committee”

– Haydn Raitt

On December 8, The West Australian (WAFL medal snub threat) reported that the WAFL clubs were seeking to take actions that would send a message to the WAFC while not breaching their WAFL license conditions. These could include not attending the Sandover Medal count, Hall of Fame dinners and not taking part in the preseason.

  • WAFL clubs want more than the $100,000 compensation they’ve been offered
  • WAFL clubs want strict list conditions placed on East Perth and Peel in order to weaken their playing strength
  • The WAFC has told clubs that the aligned clubs will likely take up to 6 non zone recruits, the WAFL clubs want the number reduced

“What we are doing is sending a letter to the commission on  Monday. It is being done up today saying how disappointed we are with their outcome and how we don’t accept their findings and that we will take this matter further.

“It means solicitors. We have spoken to Marcus Ahern. It possibly means sanctions. We are going to take it all the way because we just think it is so wrong, not so much that they have gone ahead and done it, but they just haven’t taken their district model into account.”

– WAFL Presidents chairman, Haydn Raitt

On December 15th, the West Australian reported that the G7 clubs demanded 50% more money as part of the deal, seeking $155,000 each – or $55,000 more than the original proposal.

On January 19th, The West Australian reported that the clubs and league were getting closer to signing a deal.

On January 26th, The West Australian reported that a new deal had been proposed and accepted by the G7 clubs. Under the deal an extra $120,000 will be paid to the clubs and the East Perth and Peel clubs would eventually have no out of zone players. Clubs will now recieve $150,000 in cash and a further $120,000 in management grants.


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