THE POOR financial state of St Kilda Football Club despite generous AFL funding continues to draw questioning by some clubs across the competition.

The presidents met with AFL CEO Gill McLachlan and Commission Chairman Richard Goyder at Marvel Stadium on the eve of the 2022 season.

St Kilda has received more handouts than any other club in Victoria across the past decade, during a time where the club made the decision to build a training and administration base in Seaford before cutting its losses to return to its spiritual home in Moorabbin in 2018.

The Saints have long had a debt north of $10 million which was reduced last year to just under that figure, but still only below Brisbane. 

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While the discussions around AFL distributions remained civil during Wednesday's meeting, the Saints' financial plight was put under the microscope.

It is believed the newest addition to club presidency ranks, Collingwood's Jeff Browne, diplomatically raised several issues pertaining to AFL distributions.

The Magpies received $100 million less than expansion clubs GWS and Gold Coast in AFL distributions between 2012-21, which most clubs can accept due to the reality the expansion franchises require support from headquarters for a long time to come given the project involves building something from scratch in non-traditional heartland.

Jeff Browne talking to Collingwood media on December 18, 2021. Picture: Screenshot

But the point of conjecture revolves around St Kilda's financial assistance. 

Collingwood, West Coast, Hawthorn and Geelong are all understood to have received $50 million less than the Saints during the past decade.

St Kilda has played in only one finals series in that time and only won a single final – the 2020 elimination final over the Western Bulldogs – during a period where Scott Watters and Alan Richardson were moved on as senior coaches.

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McLachlan conceded St Kilda has suffered from failing to secure lucrative deals outside of Melbourne like smaller Victorian rivals in North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

"Have they got more than most Victorian clubs? Yeah, they have. I think they got themselves in bad shape which explains part of it, but they're improving. Clubs go through ebbs and flows," McLachlan said on Wednesday afternoon.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan at Marvel Stadium on February 28, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

"The last decade for St Kilda, broadly, has been a tough period. They didn't have the non-Victorian funding of Tasmania like North Melbourne did. They didn't have Ballarat and Queensland like the Bulldogs. I think we've been on notice for some time. I think the club is operating in a very different capacity now than a few years ago financially."

McLachlan said the AFL will look at tinkering the subsidisation model but doesn't expect to please everyone with the distribution. 

"We've committed to the clubs to refine our club funding model. Our clubs are broadly happy. The model always has its tensions," he said.

"There is a large difference between a 150-year-old established Melbourne club and a new start-up in an emerging market like Gold Coast or western Sydney. Accountability for that money has always been a discussion."

The 2022 AFL season starts next Wednesday night with the AFL expecting more than 80,000 people for the Grand Final rematch at the MCG.