Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Equalization Day

As per this tweet...
Today is the big AFL meeting on equalization among the club Chairmen and Presidents and the AFL.
We hope to update this later in the day, or tomorrow.

OUR understanding of 'equalization' in the terms used by the AFL is about re-distribution of revenues.
We think what it should be is about creating a level playing field for all clubs. And we have already blogged a few points about levelling that field... the opportunity to play a balanced draw and to not be gerrymandered out of big games, and the ability to compete effectively on modest revenues.

So while this is a good step in the right direction, there is still much to do.

Geelong, at least seem proactive. Both in releasing this paper [PDF] on alternate approaches to equalization, but also in the principle of the 18 team competition comprised of similarly matched clubs.

One month ago, we were alerted to that document by @sydontheroad
This was also noted by the AFL News site, and others. The Cats executive put forward an intelligent raft of options, including;
- increased salary cap levels,
- improved stadium deals,
- levies issued to clubs who have excessive football department spends,
- revenues taken from larger clubs to compensate for fixture advantages they recieve,
- AFL funding to cover differences and inequities in stadium sizes, and
-  "...'variable' pricing on specified blockbuster games" to help fund equalisation measures.

All of these proposals are worthy and address fundamental issues related to inequity in the AFL competition, yet sadly the opposite was the outcome.

The issue that got traction at the littlest of little papers was...

AFL considers charging extra for blockbuster matches
Eliza Sewell - February 21, 2013
BLOCKBUSTER games could cost fans more to attend under a variable pricing concept floated by the AFL.
Extra revenue generated by a hike in gate prices above the standard $20, or possibly a tax on premium seating at high-demand games, would flow to the league's poorest clubs.

In usual Hun writing-style, the villain is identified...

"...Geelong has backed further exploration of the concept.
"Products that are in demand usually cost you more money," Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said yesterday.
"In terms of how that will work, we don't know. If you look at models overseas, some are varying the gate admission price, some are varying the seat premium some are varying both.
"The AFL has been working on it for a little while. I still think it's a fair way off, (it's the) very early stages, I don't believe they would be looking at it for the 2014 season.
"It's an international model ... whether it is a relevant model for the AFL should be explored."

An evil cadre! Geelong, the AFL and 'International types' are preparing to take our game away from us!

This also ignores the key fact that Brian Cook is right... "Products that are in demand usually cost you more money".
Law of supply and demand, right there people!

Also invovled in any Hun piece - a hero. In this instance, it is someone who know football economics very nicely, thank you very much.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire said: "... Blockbusters already pay their way through television rights and through catering rights and through membership and through AFL membership," he said.
"There's a big enough impost on people going to the game as it is without having to slug them even more."

And he is right a point. There is a big impost on attending games these days.
Lets also look further at his points...
- Television rights are boosted through blockbusters... and so too the insidious advance of advertising that comes with it. Cross promotions, network promotional graphics during the play, and the most evil of them all... gambling odds and advertisements during game time. Its an impost on a far greater audience than just the 90,000 of match day.
- Similarly, for those that have subscribed to the cable service, increased subscription fees are the go. Advertising barrages or increased fees... someone has to pay the networks to cover the AFL's rights fees.  
- Catering rights may be more expensive due to blockbusters... which may explain why we need a 2nd mortgage to buy a beer and a pie. 
- Membership levels are increased due to blockbusters, which means more people are actually locked out of walk-up entry to games as tickets sales are members first. 
- Offering game-day access to members access first and 'all ticketed affairs' brings Ticketek / Tickemaster et-al (you know 'International-types') into the equation. Which is another impost to fans... through reserved ticket prices and the most ridiculous fee of all, a $7 fee to print your own ticket, on your paper, using your ink. A fee for an electronic transaction.  
So remind me again, about imposts, Ed.

The international models do get a brief explanation from the Hun...

"Variable pricing is the norm in the US where the majority of teams in MLB, the NBA and NHL charge different prices for the same seat depending on the game.
These prices are set at the start of each season.
Many American sports and their teams also use "dynamic ticket pricing", where clubs re-price tickets during the season, sometimes the day before a match.
Prices can go up or down based on demand."

Which is potted Economics 101 for the football fan, right there, from your 'little paper'.

But the media identity, journalist and head of the football juggernaut that is Collingwood, has little idea about what is happening overseas.
"I've got no idea what they're talking about."
Always abreast of the issues before fronting the media, our Ed.

Finally, back to today's topic... We hope to update this as the findings come out, and we hope to see some intelligent discussion and debate. This should all be a part of a greater AFL reform package.
Geelong and other clubs (The Bulldogs, Sydney, North Melbourne) have a handle on it.
It is the most important issue facing the AFL in the longer term.

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