AFL's $500m lifeline from banks amid financial crisis

Australian Associated Press
·4-min read
Gillon McLachlan says more work is needed despite the AFL's $500m deal with banks. Pic: Getty
Gillon McLachlan says more work is needed despite the AFL's $500m deal with banks. Pic: Getty

The AFL has secured a line of credit with banks which will allow the league to continue operating through the coronavirus crisis.

The deal, announced on Monday, comes a week after the AFL and all of its clubs had been forced to stand down about 80 per cent of staff in the face of the biggest financial crisis to hit the sport.

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It also follows a restructured deal being agreed on between the AFL and players, who will take a significant pay cut.

The total amount derived from the AFL loans is reportedly more than $500 million.

"I want to thank the NAB and the ANZ for their support, but I also want to stress that while this is a relief, it is not a return to business as usual or a release valve," AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said.

"The football community is, like businesses across every sector, still very much in the financial fight of its life with the losses this year stretching to many hundreds of millions of dollars.

"What this means is we have a chance to get through but we will only get through this period if we are united as an industry and every one of us at all levels of the AFL continue to make the hard decisions to drastically and urgently cut costs."

The AFL's decision to purchase Marvel Stadium - then known as Etihad Stadium - in 2016 was crucial in recent days as the league leveraged the venue ownership in negotiations with the banks.

McLachlan said the AFL was committed to playing the remaining 144 games of the 2020 season, plus finals, and implored football fans to adhere to government advice to slow the coronavirus spread.

AFL urged to overhaul game in virus break

The AFL has been urged to take a positive from the coronavirus disaster and use the indefinite pause in the premiership season to overhaul the game.

With the season on hold until at least May 31, two-time North Melbourne premiership player David King believes the league has been presented with a unique opportunity.

While the health and safety of all associated with the AFL, along with its financial security, will remain the key focus, King hopes some time can also be put into game development.

The AFL brains trust has tried for years to free up a game that has become clogged by the team structures of defensively-minded coaches.

But the league has largely been reluctant to introduce radical changes designed to boost scoring and one-on-one contests for fear of upsetting traditionalists.

Pictured right David King wants an AFL overhaul to be born out of the current crisis.
David King (R) wants the AFL to use the current crisis as an opportunity to overhaul the game. Pic: Getty

"We're just fumbling our way along," King told Fox Footy.

"We do this all the time. We make rule changes, we just make the change and we see where it takes us.

"Why can't we say 'This is what we want it to look like' and start from the end point and work back?

"We don't ever seem to do that.

"I think we chase our tails a little bit and we've got a perfect opportunity now with a two or three-month window, to sit back and say 'What should the game look like when we're finished?'"

In response to the unprecedented conditions presented by COVID-19, the league has already shortened the season to 17 rounds and shrunk quarters to 16 minutes plus time-on.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan has even refused to rule out playing a grand final as late as December away from the MCG, with the league to get creative if given the green light to restart the season.

The AFL was on Friday handed the flexibility to play games deep into December when the AFL Players' Association agreed to a new pay deal to slash wages by up to 70 per cent in response to the shutdown.