AFL Membership

I am unconvinced of the wisdom of AFL club memberships. It appears a symptom of faulty economics on behalf of all parties. Fans pay for something they often don’t use making their membership little more than a donation (a significant portion of which is in turn squandered on merchandise, trinkets and several mailings throughout the year). Meanwhile the clubs accrue less revenue per attendee, assuming the same attendance figures.

Presumably somewhere in the equation there is a sweet spot where the club’s losses per attendee are more than accounted for by the charity of absentees; be they armchair fans, working, ill, otherwise indisposed, or simply Richmond supporters who have ‘misplaced’ their memberships.

Like gym membership, the aim is to extract the maximum amount of cash up front to immunise the bottom line from the potential dwindling interest of the member.

I’m sure someone in accounting has run the numbers and proven the case, it just seems a bit silly for everyone other than the die hard fan who attends every game or is hoping to acquire finals tickets.

Perhaps I’m being too practical. After all, footy is about passion.

So given we accept that system, why not extend it a little?

In the tradition of 16-month calendars, clubs could offer an ‘early bird’ membership to gain a head start on the next season.

Once membership growth has stalled as the inherent value of packages becomes less economically viable, clubs could effectively begin selling the next season’s memberships with the last 2 or 3 home games of the current season offered as an enticement to potential new members.

The total cost to the club would be a handful of general admission tickets, assuming those late season attendees were already planning on purchasing tickets at face value, and nothing if not. The reward would be paid-up members locked in for the following season.

This idea would be particularly beneficial for lower ranked teams, allowing clubs to capitalise on a good run of form late in the season and/or sell hope for the new year.

The logistics could be a concern as memberships are notoriously slow to process.

However, the scale of the problem would be small as these bonus tickets would, by necessity, take the form of a self-printed or posted ticket. Obviously, full memberships could not be provided in advance as the new season requires many changes; logos, clothing, merchandise, and slogans, not to mention personnel.

Additionally, this idea could actually help negate administration and supply chain issues which plague the delivery of new memberships by both spreading the load and increasing certainty for the club.

Would an ‘early bird’ membership with a couple of bonus games entice more new members?


  1. #1 by Walter R on January 7, 2015 - 12:15 am

    Considering Demetriou and Co’s behaviour over the last few years, would any self-respecting Essendon supporter really want to hand over a cent to belong to any AFL membership category?


    • #2 by Steven Williamson on January 7, 2015 - 6:22 am

      Hmm, I mean AFL in terms of any given club within the league, not the actual AFL membership option. Could have been clearer…


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