The AFL Commission has enshrined an increased minimum level of annual funding in community football

The AFL Commission has enshrined an increased minimum level of annual funding in community football which will result in an immediate injection of $17m investment in the grassroots game in 2023 - a massive 35 per cent increase on this year.

The increase solidifies the AFL’s commitment to protecting the level of community investment for years to come, with the Commission endorsing that “not less than 10 per cent” of the AFL’s assessable football revenue annually will go towards community football in 2023 and beyond.

The decision to enshrine 10 per cent of the game’s assessable revenue to invest in AFL Game Development projects means that the minimum level of community investment to benefit volunteers, umpires, coaches, players, clubs and leagues is future-proofed and cannot be changed without a further resolution of the AFL Commission, ensuring that community investment will continue to grow as future AFL broadcast and commercial revenue grows. 

In 2023 investment will rise from the current level of eight per cent to 10 per cent, with the overall investment in community football increasing from just over $50 million to $67 million. This uplift reflects recent and projected growth as the game strives to encourage more women and girls to play, umpire, coach and administer, while expanding the game into Queensland and New South Wales, and making it more inclusive for multicultural communities. 

The AFL Commission has enshrined an increased minimum level of annual funding in community football

With overall football revenue projected to increase in years to come, having an enshrined investment of not less than 10 per cent will ensure that community football funding continues to grow and supports all those volunteers who drive the success of the grassroots game. 

An investment panel including AFL Commission and community football representatives, will be established as part of the governance model, ensuring funding is directed towards primary focus areas, including:  

  • Recognising the changing face of Australia and developing new inclusive football offerings to engage people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities so we continue to be a game for all
  • Creating inclusive and accessible club environment across all levels of football to cater for the game’s growth, particularly to cater for the massive increase in women and girls playing football
  • Developing credible alternative formats to participate in the game, particularly in areas where people have limited numbers or limited space
  • Improving community football’s digital experience and providing more online resources for community football clubs to support volunteers

AFL Chief Executive Officer, Gillon McLachlan, said: “The AFL’s commitment to enshrining investment into community football is a truly historic step-change for football and everyone involved, from volunteers to players, coaches, umpires and administrators at grassroots level.

“A key priority for us in 2022 was ensuring that community football, which is the foundation of our game, bounced back and thrived after all the challenges we’ve faced over the past few years, particularly at grassroots level. While the game has rebounded strongly, it has still been tough for many of the volunteers who power our game and we recognise that more support is needed.

“Footy means so much to so many people in communities right across the country and we have a vitally important role to play in protecting and growing the game for everyone involved especially the volunteers, while ensuring more people in more places at more times can experience and enjoy our game.

“Enshrining 10 per cent of the game’s revenue for Game Development is a major advancement for the industry to celebrate and signifies the AFL’s longer-term commitment to the success of the game at grassroots level, for the benefit of current and future generations.

“This is the single biggest commitment ever to community football and it means that as broadcast and commercial revenue continues to grow so does the AFL’s commitment to supporting every level of community football, from NAB AFL Auskick all the way through to talent pathways programs.”

AFL Executive General Manager Game Development, Rob Auld, said: “The AFL Commission’s endorsement of enshrined investment into community football shows how serious we are as a code in protecting and growing community football.

“This is a ground-breaking moment for the grassroots game, which will allow us to significantly invest in the parts of community football most in need and achieve our ambitions, including supporting volunteers, reducing costs and making everyone’s football experience positive.

“With more than 480,000 people registered from NAB AFL Auskick through to junior and senior club football in 2022, the game has rebounded remarkably well overall from what we’ve been through the past few years. 

“Through this investment the AFL can take its support for community football to a new level and address challenges and opportunities associated with engaging new participants, creating inclusive environments, making it easier to participate and volunteer and developing a new oval per week, every week for five years.

“All across community football are set to benefit, including players, umpires, coaches, volunteers and administrators. This is incredibly exciting for the game and the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are involved in and love community football.”

The announcement on enshrined investment into community football comes following a series of commitments that have been delivered to ensure the grassroots game survives and thrives, including: