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The membership ladder: Hawks overtake Pies, Dons slide

Nick Bowen  August 25, 2016 11:16 AM

Jaeger bomb, North fan fury, Cat's race Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with the latest news

HAWTHORN has overtaken Collingwood at the top of the AFL membership ladder, riding a 3.33 per cent increase to a club-record tally of 75,351. 

Collingwood suffered a 0.53 per cent decrease compared to 2015, dropping to 74,643 members, but still sits second in the competition ahead of Richmond (72,278).

The combined AFL club membership tally (as of July 31) hit record numbers for the 25th time in the past 26 years, rising by 4.67 per cent to 875,197.

Thirteen of the competition's AFL clubs recorded membership increases in 2016, with St Kilda (16.07 per cent), Sydney Swans (15.74), Geelong (14.12) Greater Western Sydney (13.59) and Western Bulldogs (12.03) leading the way.

The Brisbane Lions suffered the biggest drop, failing from 25,408 members in 2015 to 23,286 this year, an 8.35 per cent decrease. 

Gold Coast (-5.78 per cent), Essendon (-5.47), Port Adelaide (-0.58) and Collingwood were the other clubs whose membership numbers dipped. 

Eleven clubs achieved record tallies, while the same number now have more than 50,000 members.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said the membership figures were a testament to the loyalty and passion of football fans.

"To reach a record for AFL club membership with a rate of retention across the industry of 86 per cent is a tremendous result," McLachlan said.

"The total number of AFL club members equates to one in every 28 Australians, which is a sign of the reach and strength of Australian football.

"The financial and emotional commitment fans make to their teams is the key reason why our game continues to prosper." 

The only time in the past 26 years when total club membership did not reach record levels was in 2000, when the AFL season was moved forward by a month to accommodate the Sydney Olympics.

 Total Members
Club20162015Variation
Hawthorn 75,351 72,924 +3.33%
Collingwood 74,643 75,037 -0.53%
Richmond 72,278 70,809 +2.07%
West Coast 65,188 60,221 +8.25%
Essendon 57,494 60,818 -5.47%
Sydney Swans 56,523 48,836 +15.74%
Adelaide 54,307 52,920 +2.62%
Port Adelaide 53,743 54,057 -0.58%
Fremantle 51,889 51,433 +0.89%
Geelong 50,571 44,312 +14.12%
Carlton 50,130 47,305 +5.97%
North Melbourne 45,014 41,012 +9.76%
Western Bulldogs 39,459 35,222 +12.03%
Melbourne 39,146 35,953 +8.88%
St Kilda 38,009 32,746 +16.07%
Brisbane Lions 23,286 25,408 -8.35%
Greater Western Sydney 15,312 13,480 +13.59%
Gold Coast 12,854 13,643 -5.78%
TOTALS 875,197 836,136 +4.67%