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Demetriou admits clubs can't afford to pay full salary cap

Making progress AFL clubs and the commission making progress on the equalisation debate and news from the concussion conference
Andrew Demetriou address the media during an AFL media conference at AFL House following the AFL Commission hearing for cases involving the Adelaide Crows Football Club, Adelaide Crows’ Chief Executive Steven Trigg, Adelaide Crows General Manager Football Operations Phil Harper, former Adelaide Crows General Manager Football Operations John Reid and former Adelaide Crows listed player Kurt Tippett.(Photo: Lachlan Cunningham/AFL Media)
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has admitted a number of clubs don't have the ability to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap.

Ensuring that all clubs have the capacity to pay the full cap was a key discussion point at the meeting between the AFL Commission and the 18 club presidents on Wednesday.

"It's absolutely true that if you're talking about having an equalised competition, you need to get to a situation where all clubs have the capacity to compete," Demetriou said at a press conference at Etihad Stadium.

"And part of being able to compete is having the capacity to pay 100 per cent of your cap.

"I don't want to give you the exact number (of clubs unable to pay the full cap at present), but I'd say there's more than one."

The Brisbane Lions, who have suffered multi-million dollar losses in recent years, are one of the clubs unable to pay 100 per cent of the salary cap.

"We're spending less this year than we did last year," Lions chairman Angus Johnson said.

"We've looked at our costs very closely. We needed to do that because the club has been incurring losses and that was something we needed to address.

"I definitely don't think that we need to spend as much money as, say, a West Coast or a Collingwood is spending.

"What you do need to be able to do is make sure you're spending 100 per cent of the salary cap.

"That's just a fundamental premise when it comes to expenditure."

A host of measures that aim to ensure the competition remains as equal as possible were tabled at Wednesday's meeting.

"From here, our aim is to have recommendations by the end of our next meeting with the club presidents in September," AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said.

The 18 club presidents agree that the competition needs to be equalised, but how to achieve the goal remains problematic.

"All clubs need to survive in this competition and they also must have the chance to be successful in their own right," Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said.

"In a nutshell, today the main thing was that we all agreed on the destination.

"The journey might not be exactly set in stone just yet, but we all believe that every person who comes to a game of football has the birthright of thinking in their lifetime that their team should be able to win a premiership.

"If I was a supporter out there, I would be feeling pretty good that in the next period of time there is going to be a lot of work put into this to make sure that every fan has got the opportunity of seeing their team play good football and possibly win a premiership."

Although the richest clubs now spend millions of dollars more on their football departments than the poorest, there is staunch opposition to a cap on such spending outside of player payments.

"It must be said there was a wide variance of view on this topic, in particular," Fitzpatrick said.

Instead, changing the deals that North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda have at the privately owned Etihad Stadium has emerged as a key priority.

The AFL wants to solve the problem by purchasing the stadium, but no recent progress has been made on whether the League and the stadium's owners can agree on a price.

Another discussion point was the living expenses allowance granted to the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney, to which Collingwood and a number of other clubs are fiercely opposed.

The allowance granted to the Swans and Giants is being reviewed, although no date has been set for when a decision will be made.

"In fairness to the Swans, and I think everyone has touched on it, we didn't spend that much time arguing about cost of living allowances," Demetriou said.

"We spent time talking more about getting to a pure salary cap, a pure draft, an unencumbered draft.

"We've had the two (expansion) teams come in and it has affected clubs."