What the WCE WAFL team means for Perth Football Club

Monday, October 15, 2018 - 3:11 PM

Good afternoon Members, Sponsors and Supporters,

Over the last week, you have read the WAFC press release and significant media attention regarding the West Coast Eagles securing a side in the WAFL for 2019. 

Following careful consideration of the proposal put forward by WCE, the decision to approve the proposal was made by the WAFL Council of Presidents on the 10th October 2018. This will make the WAFL a ten team competition.

Throughout the discussions with the WCE and WAFC, the Perth Football Club has had protecting the Club's best interests as our primary goal.

The Perth Football Club Perspective

The West Coast Eagles CEO, Trevor Nisbett made it quite clear when talking as a guest speaker at our Sponsors Networking Event during the year that the WCE preference was to field their own team over alignment.  

When East Perth announced that they wished to end their alignment with WCE earlier than the 2019 agreement it became obvious decisions had to be made.

It is imperative to the Perth Football Club that the WAFL’s integrity is maintained, our branding is enhanced and not diminished, and our great game in WA has opportunity to become stronger through a better WAFL competition.

After discussions with the WAFL Clubs, the West Australian Football Commission put together a joining proposal.

Our main issues were:

  1. Financial
  2. WCE not using the WAFL to build their brand at our expense
  3. The WCE to be competitive but not dominant
  4. Ground usage at Lathlain Park.

Financial

Under the Alignment model, both WCE and Fremantle Football Club pay an alignment fee to the non-aligned clubs. Throughout negotiation, it was emphasised this should be maintained. The final financial agreement for WCE to enter the WAFL is:

  • Continuing the current total alignment fee - $467,000pa + CPI
  • Meet the additional costs of East Perth’s funding, being bought up to the level of non-aligned clubs -$230,000
  • Meet the additional competition costs (umpires etc) - $54,000
  • Additional annual club grant of $5,000 per WAFL Club, CPI indexed
  • A once of sign on fee of $10,000 per club.

This is a total annual investment of approximately $800,000 pa before meeting their team costs. This was acceptable to the WAFL Clubs and the WAFC. The WAFL Clubs will be in a stronger financial position.

The alternative of them playing in an AFL reserves competition or the VFL would have had serious consequences for our finances and player retention, as we would have no control.

Commercialisation

It was agreed that the WCE could play under their name and will use a non-AFL jumper in their colours.

The WCE advised they have no intention of commercialising the AFL through their WAFL participation. They acknowledge any promotion must be for the benefit of the WAFL.

If they wish to commercialise their WAFL  team it must benefit all WAFL Clubs. For example, if they engage sponsor who wants to support the WAFL, then all WAFL clubs need to benefit.

WCE having a team in the WAFL has the potential to increase our exposure and promotional opportunities. The WCE must align with the competition sponsorship guidelines.

The WCE team is to be competitive, but not dominant

A draft proposal of maximum top up players from various categories has been prepared by the WAFC. This includes interstate league players at a maximum of two at one time, not being able to employ top up players, maximum of player payment of $350 per game.

WCE will come under our points system, but with a limited points allowance of say 50 or 60. There will be a salary cap for top up players.

This preliminary suggestion has not been agreed to. This is primarily because the WCE staff have been busy with the grand final and now trade week.

Generally, the WAFL Clubs believe the proposal is too generous and would rather we start at a low base and at seasons end, at review, increase player allowance if needed. Four of our CEOs, the WAFC and the WCE will meet regarding this and make a decision at the end of October.

Ground Usage

This concern is specific to the Perth Football Club. Currently our ground usage is protected in our MOU. However, whilst the MOU gives our Colts use of oval two, it is only if not needed by the WCE.

I have spoken with their CEO who believes we can have same access as in 2018, however we will need to consider future ground usage. Usage will get more complex when the Eagles, and hopefully, the PFC, get women’s teams.

The WCE have advised they will improve lighting to AFL standards and construct a new scoreboard at Lathlain.

The WCE will not have a home ground, instead playing each game at the away side’s grounds. This lessens Lathlain Park’s usage.

The WCE have suggested they can buy these games and play them at Lathlain. We are opposed to this unless it doesn’t impact our ground usage. We will be meeting with the WCE asap to discuss ground usage issues. Fortunately, most of our usage is protected by our MOU.

In conclusion,

This has not been an easy decision as all WAFL Boards are very protective of our great competition.

However, we must be realistic as the football landscape has changed with having two WA sides in the AFL. I reiterate again the WCE playing strength is designed to make them competitive not dominant.

The WCE have been very appreciative of the opportunity and excited by the prospect of competing in the WAFL. They have also committed to increasing their promotion of the WAFL.

The SANFL were very harsh on their two AFL sides player top up lists. As a result, the Adelaide Crows SANFL side finished on the bottom, with a percentage of 59%. Port Adelaide were second bottom with a similar percentage, apparently crowds were shockingly low as a result.

Ensuring the WAFL maintains and strengthens its identity, we can continue to grow the WAFL in all aspects, maintain our integrity and make WA football stronger have been important considerations.

In the participation agreement there is a condition that sets out the terms of reference for a full review of all conditions at the end of the 2019 season.

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact the Perth Football Club President, Daryle Mann.