AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou’s legacy will be mixed, the AFL Fans Association said today. Mr Demetriou will stand down at the end of the year after 11 seasons as AFL CEO.
AFLFA president Brian Clarke says while Mr Demetriou oversaw the expansion of the competition and will leave it financially healthy, many fans are not happy with the game’s direction.
“More fans can now watch the game on TV and in much-improved stadium facilities,” Brian says. “The AFL is in a healthy financial position and fans still love their football. Our game’s future is financially sound and more comfortable to watch.
“But many fans are frustrated by developments such as the AFL ploughing millions into Greater Western Sydney, which may never become a stronghold. They are also concerned about the proliferation of gambling advertising, constant rule changes, the rising cost of going to the football, repeated denials that tanking occurred and the handling of controversies such as the Essendon supplements saga.
Brian says the Essendon situation has frustrated many AFL followers. “Many questions have emerged about the AFL’s governance and accountability, which largely remain unanswered,” he says.
The AFLFA is also concerned that attending games, particularly blockbusters, is now much more expensive and the chances of competing club members attending the Grand Final continue to be slim.
Brian says the new CEO must reconnect with fans, who are the game’s largest stakeholder, and genuinely consult with them. They could start by reforming Grand Final ticket allocations and reviewing pre-booked ticket systems that have seen home and away game prices skyrocket.
“The new MCG variable ticket pricing will force some fans to book unnecessarily and cost them up to $60 for an adult ticket, plus booking and printing fees,” Brian says. “This will put regular games out of the reach of ordinary fans.”
Brian says Mr Demetriou often talked about the AFL having an independent Commission. He hopes that under the new CEO the AFL Commission, the game’s governing body, will be truly independent.
“Many fans remain confused about whether the executive or the Commission actually calls the shots,” Brian says. “Maybe it is time to reassess whether the CEO should be on the Commission.”
The AFLFA provides a voice for AFL fans across Australia on issues affecting them such as ticketing, rules, game times, commercialisation and memberships. AFLFA membership is free and anyone can join at www.aflfans.org.au.