AFL CHIEF Executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday announced total AFL Club membership has exceeded one million members so far in season 2021.

Only eight rounds into the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership season – Brisbane Lions, Carlton, Geelong Cats and St Kilda have all broken their all-time membership records.

One in 26 Australians is a member of an AFL club.

The million-member mark surpasses the total 2020 number of 992,854 members during the COVID affected season. The all-time record of 1,057,572 was set in 2019.

AFL club membership has increased 28 times in the past 30 years, with the exceptions being in the year 2000, when the AFL season was moved forward by a month to accommodate the Sydney Olympics, and last year’s Covid-19 pandemic-impacted season.

Final numbers for all clubs will be released in August 2021, after membership sales cut off on July 31, 2021.

“The connection that footy supporters have with their clubs is unmatched in world sport.” AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said.

“The commitment members made to their clubs is a key reason why all 18 clubs were able to survive a challenging and unprecedented year in 2020. Their loyalty and unwavering support has allowed the game to bounce back this season, showcased by the record number of attendances around the country since the COVID pandemic hit.”

“On behalf of the AFL, I want to say thank you to every single person who has signed up this year.”

Suns fans during the round five clash against the Western Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos

The announcement comes as the AFL has also advised Victorian clubs that reserve seat members can return to their reserved seats at the MCG, Marvel Stadium from Round Nine and GMHBA Stadium from Round 10.

As stadium capacities in Victoria currently sit at 85% for the MCG, and 75% for Marvel Stadium, GMHBA Stadium and Mars Stadium in Ballarat, the AFL has worked with the authorised ticketing agents Ticketek and Ticketmaster, along with the venues and Victoria State Government to reconfigure the current seating arrangements.

To comply with government approved COVID Safe measures Reserve Seat Members will be able to download a digital membership card from their club to use on their smart phone – much adding an airplane ticket or debit card to the phone’s digital wallet.

Once they arrive at the match, members will enter through the designated gate on their digital membership cards, scan in and head to their normal reserved seat/s.

In the coming days each club will communicate with their members as to their preferred approach.

If members don’t have a smart phone they can work directly with their club on an alternative arrangement.

Fans check in with a QR code at the MCG. Picture: AFL Photos

For General Admission Members (no reserved seat), Reserved Bay Members (with no specific reserved seat) and the General Public, fans will still need to register for a ticket via the authorised ticket agent – Ticketek or Ticketmaster – to ensure their details are registered to attend the match.

On-sales for both Rounds 9 and 10 will begin on Tuesday May 11 for AFL Members and Home Club Members and Wednesday May 12 for Away Club Members and General Public.

AFL Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial Kylie Rogers congratulated the AFL clubs on their commitment to work with their fans and thanked the Victorian Government for continuing to work the AFL to get to the milestone in getting reserved seat members back to their seats.

“Our priority has been to ensure, in the safest way possible that members get back to their beloved reserve seats to enjoy the footy with their friends and family. It is a great result for football fans in Victoria and highlights the hard work of fans adhering to COVID-safe rules across the first part of the season.” Ms Rogers said.

“We empathise that although members will be back in their seats, there are still some COVID-safe guidelines we must continue to follow. It is another great step in getting back to normal as the community continues to manage life amongst the pandemic,

“On behalf of the AFL and all the clubs, thank you to all the members for your ongoing support and commitment to your clubs and the game.”

Round Nine, beginning Friday May 14, will see all clubs, through various initiatives, thanking their members for their loyalty and support in reaching the collective one-million-member mark.