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West Coast Eagles identified as Australia’s most profitable sports club
An analysis of the financial reports of teams in Australia’s major sporting codes shows that the West Coast Eagles are the nation’s most profitable sports club.
The financial accounts the club recently lodged with the corporate regulator for the year to October 2017 show the club Eagles made an operating surplus of almost $5.4 million last year from $64 million revenue.
As reported by John Stensholt in the Australian Financial Review, even though that surplus was down from $6 million in the previous year, the Eagles balance sheet is the strongest in the AFL and across any sports code.
Behind the Eagles, Essendon recorded a profit of slightly more than $5 million boosted by $3.97 million in donations from supporters via the Australian Sports Foundation.
The annual reports showed that the combined profits of AFL clubs totalled $24.5 million from slightly more than $1 billion revenue. Other AFL clubs in profit included St Kilda, although its $5.27 million profit included $8 million in revenue for its Moorabbin training ground revamp.
Most NRL clubs recorded losses last year, with the notable exception of the ASX-listed Brisbane Broncos, which made a $2.75 million net profit from $46.5 million revenue. In rugby union, the ACT Brumbies made a small $14,361 profit in 2017 and the Queensland Reds a $22,263 surplus.
The financial statements of the 18 AFL clubs also showed that 2017 Grand Final winner Richmond had a cash balance of almost $10 million having derived $8.6 million from its Aligned Leisure aquatic, fitness and recreation facility management division.
Meanwhile, the combined $48 million the GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns received in AFL distributions last year is almost equal the $50 million administrators say having the two expansion teams in the competition is worth in additional broadcast revenue annually.
Operating in the AFL heartland of Perth, and with only cross-town rivals Fremantle to compete with locally, is clearly an advantage for West Coast.
Stensholt also identified that the Eagles’ profits are notwithstanding its paying of $137 million in the West Australian Football Commission in dividends and rent since being founded in 1987.
Their strong financial performance has seen the club has accumulate $21.8 million in cash on its balance sheet and another $42 million of fixed interest and equity investments.
However, in the coming year the Eagles’ balance sheet will be impacted by their move into to new training and administration facilities this time next year.
West Coast is shifting its headquarters to a $61.5 new facility at Lathlain Park, seven kilometres south-east of the Perth CBD, which will include training facilities, a community hub and space for the Wirrpanda Foundation, founded by former Eagles player David Wirrpanda, and the local Perth football club.
Eagles Chief Executive Trevor Nisbett says the club is contributing $35 million to the project, believed to be the biggest spend by a sports club given many clubs' facilities are usually built with government money in conjunction with community and other sports organisations.
Nisbett explains “it's a project that we've probably been working on for a good 20 years.
"It will certainly secure the club for the long term and we're very grateful for state and federal government and other support for it. So the next thing for us will be looking for some support of the benefactors out there that are supporters of the club."
The club is also set to start playing its home AFL Premiership games at Perth’s new 60,000 capacity Optus Stadium with Fremantle.
The financial terms of the move were only agreed in October after lengthy negotiations with the Western Australian Government and the venue operators.
Nisbet advises that the Eagles have about 50,000 seated members at the new venue and, with another 1385 stadium members aligned with the club, there will be about 8000 tickets for general sale for each home game.
Nisbet went on to tell the Australian Financial Review "it's an exciting period for our members, corporate supporters and sponsors and the like. But it's been frustrating and we're still getting in touch with prospective members.
“We didn't have much time to be organised and we're still dealing with things such as restricted views in some seats. But it should end up being significantly better off there in the future."
Images: The West Coast Eagles 2017 squad (top) and the new Optus Stadium (below).
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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
29th August 2017 - NRL DOUBLE HEADER SET TO BE FIRST SPORTING CONTEST AT NEW PERTH STADIUM
27th August 2017 - AFL FANS BID FAREWELL TO PERTH’S SUBIACO OVAL
7th August 2017 - ALIGNED LEISURE APPOINTMENT TO SUPPORT ONGOING GROWTH
6th June 2017 - FREMANTLE AND WEST COAST EAGLES AGREE PERTH STADIUM DEAL
21st March 2017 - PLAY HARD SPORTS EQUIP WEST COAST EAGLES’ NEW NEST
16th February 2016 - NRL RECORDS $12.5 MILLION LOSS DESPITE RECORD REVENUE
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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