Melbourne might not need AFL assistance after all, with the club halving the projected debt they were set to accumulate due to COVID-19.
The AFL took out a $600 million loan in order to keep the game afloat and teams will have access to that money if they need it, but they will also need to pay it back quickly.
Richmond, West Coast, Collingwood, Adelaide, Essendon and the Western Bulldogs are among the teams that have announced they will not require a handout from the AFL, while some teams like Carlton will only need a minor top up towards the end of the year.
After initially expecting a hole of as much as $10 million, the Demons have pushed that figure down to potentially as low as $4 million.
Club president Glen Bartlett said that if they’re able to raise another $1 million from supporters by the end of the year, they won’t need AFL assistance.
“We really acted quickly in setting up a structure and did a lot of work financially on the different scenarios and the hardest thing is the uncertainty,” he told SEN’s Whateley.
“Were we going to have a season that wasn’t going to go ahead? Were we going to have a season with no games? Were we going to have a season with games, but no crowds? Were we going to have a mix?
“We initially assessed we were probably going to have somewhere between a $8-10 million financial hole this year which we’ve managed to get back to $4.5-5 million which is still a big number.
“However, we’ve got a very strong balance sheet, we’re in a good position to respond and we’ve just launched our Proud to Belong, Proud to Give fundraising campaign.
“If we can raise $1 million by Christmas, and we’re on our way, then we will not need to be an assisted club.
“We’ll be a non-assisted club. We will not need to go to the AFL to borrow any money which is really significant.
“We want to be a proud, independent and financially strong club. We’ve worked really hard over the last four years to reduce debt from $8.2 million to $2 million. We made the decision to exit gaming, we sold the Leighoak Hotel.
“It’s pretty significant. If we can raise $1 million by Christmas, we’ll be an unassisted club.”
Bartlett explained what the club has done in order to save some money and improve their financial position.
“Our people have been fantastic in the work and the decisions they’ve made to actually take costs out, go in some different directions, negotiate some different arrangements,” he said.
“We’ve been well supported by our financial partners, by the MCC and worked with the AFL.
“We’re in a position where we can rebound from this quite strongly.
“Realistically, it might take two to three years to fill that $5 million hole and we don’t know yet what’s going to happen next year, but we do anticipate an impact from COVID-19 next year and probably the year after as well.”