Monday looms as a difficult day at AFL clubs around the country as chief executives attempt to deal with the serious financial implications of a postponed season.
Last week foxfooty.com.au reported clubs were expecting to shed between $5 and $10 million from their balance sheets — and these numbers have now become an immediate concern following league CEO Gillon McLachlan’s press conference on Sunday afternoon.
McLachlan said clubs would soon detail the “drastic and immediate steps needed to be taken to cut costs”.
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Several clubs have told part-timers to stay away until further notice, while Essendon has already made a handful of changes to its administration staff.
But these initial measures are likely to be the tip of the iceberg once club executives sit down to balance their books this week.
The $10 million soft cap – which was designed to equalise the competition – could be slashed in half. Recruiters are likely to be stood down indefinitely while there is no footy to scout, while events and community workers made redundant or given unpaid leave.
Some clubs, such as the Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne, are understood to have told staff they will explore every possible solution before wielding the axe. But other clubs have simply shared a “wait and see” message, increasing anxiety for football and non-football staff.
In the NFL, the day following the final game of the regular season is widely referred to as ‘Black Monday.’ Underperforming general managers and coaches get fired almost hourly.
The only difference with what’s to come in the AFL is that those who face uncertain futures won’t necessarily have underperformed. They will just be a victim of circumstance. One high ranking club official told foxfooty.com.au that his executive team was “dreading it”.
McLachlan, who has conceded he will need to take a pay cut in light of recent extraordinary developments, was asked about the short to medium term future of clubs on Sunday afternoon.
“I think it’s become very real in the last couple hours and it’s going to be a very real few days as people, including me, chief executives and presidents, have got to have honest conversations with staff and people, because this is a very human part of the business,” the AFL CEO said.
“This virus is taking an incredible personal toll physically on many people and will continue to do so. But the economic cost and the livelihood cost is significant as well.
“We’ve got to stay united and work through this as a community, no matter what industry you’re in.”
The AFL Players’ Association has conceded male players will need to take a pay cut (what percentage they land on remains to be seen), while AFL coaches are also consigned to a reduction in their salaries.
But it’s the future of clubs – especially those already vulnerable ones – that is sure to cause the most headaches for McLachlan and his team over the coming weeks and months.