WA club licences on AFL agenda
Football operations manager Adrian Anderson has confirmed the AFL’s interest in overhauling the licence structures of WA’s two teams which could mean the WA Football Commission relinquishing the licences.
The West Australian understands that a working party to review the structure of the game in this State has already been established and has held its first meeting.
The working party includes representatives from West Coast, Fremantle, the WAFC and the AFL.
The West Australian revealed in February that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou wanted the WAFC to relinquish the licences, leaving the Dockers and Eagles as stand-alone clubs like their Victorian counterparts.
He has similar views on the South Australian football system.
Speaking on ABC radio on Saturday, Anderson confirmed that the AFL was doing extensive research on the best structures to serve the game into the future.
“I know that there has been a lot of thought done by (AFL general manager of national and international development) Dave Matthews and his team on what is the best structure for footy into the future and what is the structure that delivers the best results for development of the game,” he said.
“That may involve looking at the structure of how the licences work at the moment.
“I think the governance structure of the AFL having an independent commission is a step that has been a real crucial step in the success of the game now.
“Getting the structure right now at State level to make sure that we are all pulling in the right direction and there is not overlap, is going to be crucial for the next phase of the game.”
Asked if that meant that the AFL was investigating who should control the licences of WA’s two AFL clubs Anderson said: “Certainly, if it helps achieve better outcomes in terms of efficiency and development then it is certainly something that should be looked at.”
The WAFC has totally owned Fremantle since their inception in 1994 ahead of their first AFL season in 1995. The commission assumed a controlling interest in West Coast in 1989 after the entire WA football system suffered financial meltdown. The WAFC reached agreement with remaining Indian Pacific shareholders a decade later to complete the purchase of the club.
The WAFC has been opposed to relinquishing the licences, concerned about how grass-roots football would be funded in the State. There were also concerns about whether money generated here would be milked by the AFL to support cash-strapped Victorian clubs as part of the league’s equalisation policies and what compensation should be paid.
WA football has paid a total of $8 million for the licences.
“At the end of the day it is really about what we can achieve by having the most efficient structure in place, the best decision making structure and people doing the right things where their strengths lie,” Anderson said.
“I am sure that will play out over time and what is exactly the right structure is something that needs to be worked through.”