Money ball – big money bruises local game


Money ball – big money bruises local game

THE top Alberton Football League players are netting more than $30,000 a season, with payments of up to $1500 a game and sign on fees of up to $5000.

One high-profile player recently reneged on such a deal, accepting an even better offer from a Melbourne club. The AFL club has denied his initial attempts at a clearance.

A football insider, who has become disgruntled with spiralling player payments, said money was undermining the future of the local game.

“The sign on fee is almost something where footy clubs have to take a step back. Is the market player driven? Because clubs are bowing to that perception that it’s player driven, they’re paying far beyond what they need to, to get the players into their clubs,” the insider told The Star.

“Where is it going to stop? I wouldn’t have thought that you’d get anyone past $500 bucks a game five years ago.

“I just think it’s excessive when you hear stories of blokes getting sign on fees and shafting clubs.

“I can see that clubs have to do it, but where does it stop?”

The insider said in recent years several AFL players had been paid up to $1000 a game, but now just as many were being paid “well in excess of that”.

“Sign on fees are anywhere between $2000 and $5000. Two thousand dollars is not an uncommon payment to make to secure a $300-to-$400-a-week player,” he said.

The insider said that while sign on payments had been around for a number of years, a cultural shift had occurred where players were demanding them prior to each season.

Similarly, he said players who were injured would often take to the ground – thus ensuring payment – before exiting early.

“They’re not good servants of the club and people see that,” he said.

Toora Football Club co-president Pete Hollier said the exorbitant payment of marquee players had left the smaller clubs struggling, creating a gulf between the haves and have nots.

Asked how his club kept up with such payments, he gave a succinct answer: “We can’t, we don’t.”

“It’s impossible to keep up with that. It leaves the league in a terrible state. Small clubs can’t compete at all. Most clubs will spend $150,000 to win a premiership. It’s killing football big time,” he said.

“I reckon it has to end somewhere. It’s hard getting people to help out these days. If you’re buying Melbourne players, they’re unlikely to help out, are they?”

Mr Hollier said his own dedicated playing group, along with volunteers, helped to raise money for the club coffers by carting hay.

AFL president John Schelling said that “what happens in the big league eventually filters down”.

“Player payments in the Alberton league have been going on for years and it’s now blown out to exorbitant proportions. “We’ve seen major leagues go the same way over the last 20 years. We’ve seen league footballers playing at Maffra and Leongatha and other places,” he said.

“I suppose as time goes on we’re going to see it happening in the minor leagues. One shapes the other. I would say that in some of the smaller clubs they’re paying what some of the bigger clubs are paying just to survive.

“While the standard of the league is good we’re happy to see quality players coming in. But I am personally concerned that it’s got to break at some point. The community won’t have those dollars forever and a day to tip into it.”

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Posted by on Mar 19 2013. Filed under Featured, News, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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