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Cats call for salary cap re-think

Nathan Schmook  February 20, 2013 2:25 PM

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Geelong CEO Brian Cook

GEELONG has called for an increase in the player salary cap as a solution to excess football department spending, outlining its case in a submission to the AFL on equalisation.

The Cats have publicly released their response to the AFL on the widening gap between the most and least wealthy clubs, highlighting the ability of 'big' clubs to invest more in their non-player football department expenditure.     

The club suggests salary cap payments have been "held down to the level that is affordable by the least wealthy clubs", leaving strong clubs room to invest in non-player items.

"The fabric of our competition is threatened if this gets too far out of kilter," Geelong said in its submission.

"The players won't put up with it and will have reasonable cause to challenge the salary cap.

"The objective should be to increase the capacity of the smallest clubs to pay the players more while, at the same time, reducing the capacity of the rich clubs to spend on non-player items."

Geelong, which placed itself in a middle group between the wealthy and struggling clubs, said it supported the AFL's equalisation objectives, acknowledging that the gap between clubs on and off the field is smaller than in competitions elsewhere.  

However, it said an AFL proposal to cap non-player football spending should be a last resort as "it will be too hard to define what is 'football' expenditure".

The AFL has also considered a "luxury tax" on football department spending as well as shared match-day revenues, prompting concern from rich clubs.

However, Geelong said these measures should be on the table as they provided "reasonable compensation for factors that are unfair to smaller clubs and which provide larger clubs with unfair advantages".

The Geelong paper highlighted stadium sizes and the fixture as factors that hold small clubs back and accelerate the growth of wealthy clubs.

"A logical case exists for compensation for these two factors," the Cats said.

"These advantages make a large and immediate difference to the bottom lines of clubs and will also, over decades, slowly change the size of supporter base."

Geelong suggested $15 to $20 million per year could be sourced for justified payments to smaller clubs.

This would come from:
• Dollars taken from larger clubs in compensation for fixture advantages
• A reshaped 'equalisation' fund that only collects on attendees above stadium break-even
• New dollars funded by 'variable' pricing on specified blockbuster games
• An allocation from AFL funds as some compensation for 'stadium size disadvantages'.

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan