AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL has recorded a $22.8 million loss on its COVID-19 ravaged 2020 operations.

Clubs were told Tuesday afternoon of the financial result.

While obviously concerning, the official outcome was nowhere as problematic as feared eleven months ago – when the AFL was forced to suspend indefinitely the 2020 season after just one round, prompting industry heavyweights to speculate on potential losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Year on year, AFL revenue was down $119 million, to $675 million. Of that, $231 million was distributed to clubs, and $67 million was apportioned to the running of the shorter men's season, including the establishment and season-long upkeep of club hubs.

Victorious Richmond players leave the Gabba after the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Payments to AFL executives and commissioners was reduced by a third ($7.10m in 2020, $10.57m in 2019).

Virtually all facets of the AFL industry suffered severe job loss and wage cuts due to COVID-19 enforced changes. The AFL itself was forced to stand down more than 80 per cent of its employees.

The AFL registered a $27.9m profit on the 2019 season.

AFL Commission chairman Richard Goyder said 2020 seriously challenged tested the entire industry.

"Working through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 really tested both the resilience of the AFL and its 18 clubs," Goyder said.


"The collective unity of football enabled the game to weather arguably the biggest challenge in our history and reinforced the incredible connection football has with our members and supporters, our participants and our broadcast and corporate partners.

"The year was tough financially but I want to thank the boards and staff of the 18 clubs, our players, umpires and our own AFL executive and team, led by Gillon McLachlan, for the work they did and the difficult decisions they took to ensure football continued around the country.

"Everyone across our football community, from our players, coaches and staff members and our long-serving and committed broadcast and corporate partners all made the relevant sacrifices to put the health of the community first and then ensure we still had a game for the fans.

"Most of all, I want to thank our members and supporters for their passion and commitment to their clubs and everyone who watched the games and supported us collectively, in finding a way to complete the 2020 Toyota Premiership season."

Among the other expenses in 2020, $32m went to game development, $19m to the AFLPA and $14m to the running of the AFLW competition.

The AFL received $14.3 million from the Victorian Government for the redevelopment of Marvel Stadium, a figure which when factored in to the 2020 books, took the statutory loss on the year down to $8.4 million.

The AFL also used $60 million in capital reserves in order to complete the season.