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AFL club membership heads towards a million

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 1: Tigers fans cheer during the 2016 AFL Round 02 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne on April 1, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Richmond members have had plenty of reason to smile in 2017

THE AFL has broken its all-time club membership record, exceeding 900,000 members for the first time in its history.

A record 907,561 people have signed up to membership packages at their clubs in 2017, with 10 of the 18 clubs also breaking all-time membership records.

They are Adelaide, Essendon, Geelong, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, Melbourne, Richmond, St Kilda, Sydney and the Western Bulldogs.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan said the popularity of the game had never been greater.

"One in every 27 Australians is now a member of an AFL club, a sign that the national reach of Australian football has never been bigger," he said.

"On behalf of the AFL, thank you to the 907,561 members that signed up and supported their club in season 2017.

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

Collingwood has the most members, with 75,879 signing up this year, regaining top spot from Hawthorn (75,663), with Richmond (72,669) in third position.

Essendon, coming off a season cruelled by the year-long suspension of 12 players, achieved a 17.87 per cent increase in membership over 2016.

Greater Western Sydney's membership soared by almost 37 per cent, while the Western Bulldogs took advantage of their premiership to boost their member numbers by more than 20 per cent.

It is the 17th consecutive season the AFL has recorded positive growth in membership figures.

The inaugural NAB AFL Women's League membership tally is included in overall figures, with 7192 fans becoming foundation members of an AFLW club.

Forty-five per cent (3237 fans) of those people are new members to the AFL.

"While the AFLW season featured free entry to all games, to see over 7000 fans become a foundation member with a club and pledge their support is extremely encouraging," McLachlan said.

AFL club membership tallies in 2017

CLUB 2016 2017
Adelaide 54,307 56,865
Brisbane Lions 23,286 21,362
Carlton 50,130 50,326
Collingwood 74,643 75,879
Essendon 57,494 67,768
Fremantle 51,889 51,254
Geelong 50,571 54,854
Gold Coast 12,854 11,665
Greater Western Sydney 15,312 20,944
Hawthorn 75,351 75,663
Melbourne 39,146 42,233
North Melbourne 45,014 40,343
Port Adelaide 53,743 52,129
Richmond 72,278 72,669
St Kilda 38,009 42,052
Sydney 56,523 58,838
West Coast 65,188 65,064
Western Bulldogs 39,459 47,653
TOTALS 875,197 907,561