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IBISWorld study confirms West Coast Eagles as AFL’s most profitable club

IBISWorld study confirms West Coast Eagles as AFL’s most profitable club
March 23, 2018

In the lead up to the 2018 AFL season opener, IBISWorld has explored the 2017 financial results of the AFL clubs vying for this year’s premiership, providing a score card on their fiscal performance.

With 14 of the 18 AFL clubs posting an operating profit in 2017, up from 10 in 2016, Collingwood’s revenue of $77.7 million, up 9% from 2016, puts the Melbourne club at the top of the ladder in terms of end-of-year revenue.

Clubs backed by hospitality and gambling
Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast retained their position as the top three revenue earners in 2017, maintaining their dominance as financial powerhouses. However, Collingwood and Hawthorn relied heavily on gaming and hospitality revenue.

IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst, Nick Tarrant explained “the AFL is pushing hard for the clubs to reduce their dependence on hospitality and gaming revenue, but it remains clear that certain clubs rely heavily on their corporate hosting and pokies revenue streams. The three top clubs received the least funding from the AFL. 

“In 2017, 29.4% of Collingwood’s revenue came from hospitality and pokies, with Hawthorn at 26.7%.”

In other revenue highlights, Essendon’s revenue grew by 22% following the end of the doping scandal. The club’s home ground attendances were up 50.6%, with that translating into a 38.8% increase in match-day sales and membership revenue.

Meanwhile, Richmond surged nine places up the revenue ladder following their drought-breaking premiership win. 

Tarrant added “Richmond’s increased revenue grew on the back of a 36% rise in home ground attendances, a 28.3% increase in sponsorship revenue and a full-year’s worth of revenue from Aligned Leisure, the club’s health and recreation business.”


Highest Profits
The biggest winner in terms of annual profits, West Coast was at the top of the table, having posted a sizeable profit of $12.4 million in 2017. 

At the opposite end of the profit scale, the heaviest loss was Collingwood, which recorded an operating loss of $2.7 million. 

However, IBISWorld notes that Collingwood recorded an operating profit of $6.1 million from its function centres and gaming venues alone, with Tarrant explaining “this again highlights Collingwood’s reliance on hospitality and gaming revenue streams.”. 


AFL Funding
North Melbourne and St Kilda are the two established clubs that rely the most on AFL funding. North Melbourne received 41.1% of its revenue ($16.3 million) from the AFL, with St Kilda at 43.0% ($20.6 million).

2017 was a particularly tough year for North Melbourne. As Tarrant explained “the team struggled significantly on and off the field, with attendances down by 19%, the largest fall in the league.”

Membership sales and gate receipts were down by over 12% as a result. 

Topping the AFL funding ladder for 2017 was the Gold Coast, a team that received an enormous $24.7 million in funding from the AFL, an increase of $5.6 million from 2016. 

Here Tarrant explained “the Gold Coast relies heavily on AFL funding to stay afloat, with the national league propping up the club with over 60% of its revenue.”. 

*IBISWorld estimate. Port Adelaide data unavailable.

Image: AFL Grand Final at the MCG. 

14th March 2018 - WEST COAST EAGLES IDENTIFIED AS AUSTRALIA’S MOST PROFITABLE SPORTS CLUB 

13th March 2018 - HAWTHORN PRESIDENT JEFF KENNETT SLAMS AFL’S INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION PLANS 

9th November 2017 - CARLTON FOOTBALL CLUB APPOINT CAIN LIDDLE AS NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE 

30th August 2017 - RICHMOND ATTRACTS AFL’S BIGGEST CROWD NUMBERS THROUGH 2017 SEASON

7th November 2017 - AFL AIMS FOR NEW PERTH STADIUM TO DRIVE 2018 ATTENDANCE RECORD

31st October 2017 - NEW PERTH STADIUM TO HOST 23 GAMES IN AFL 2018 PREMIERSHIP 

20th October 2017 - WESTERN AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AND AFL AGREE NEW PERTH STADIUM MATCH DEAL 

11th September 2017 - PERTH STADIUM TO OFFICIALLY OPEN WITH FREE COMMUNITY OPEN DAY 

7th September 2017 - AFL BREAKS HOME-AND-AWAY SEASON ATTENDANCE RECORD 

30th August 2017 - RICHMOND ATTRACTS AFL’S BIGGEST CROWD NUMBERS THROUGH 2017 SEASON

6th June 2017 - FREMANTLE AND WEST COAST EAGLES AGREE PERTH STADIUM DEAL 

5th May 2017 - AFL LOOKS TO ESPORTS TO ENGAGE WITH NEW AUDIENCES

21st March 2017 - PLAY HARD SPORTS EQUIP WEST COAST EAGLES’ NEW NEST

28th June 2016 - VENUESLIVE MANAGEMENT SERVICES TO COMMENCE AS OPERATOR OF PERTH STADIUM 

14th May 2016 - HBF ARENA AND LATHLAIN PARK TO BENEFIT FROM WESTERN AUSTRALIA BUDGET 

1st March 2016 - AFL REVENUES TOPPED $500 MILLION IN 2015 

17th August 2015 - NO NAMING RIGHTS SALE FOR NEW PERTH STADIUM

26th June 2015 - AFL’S MCLACHLAN COMMITS TO GAMES AT NEW PERTH STADIUM

12th June 2015 - DOCKERS’ FACILITY TO SET NEW AFL BENCHMARK

5th March 2014 - WEST COAST EAGLES WANT $40 MILLION FOR ELITE TRAINING FACILITY


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