WA footy reaches fork in the road
Gary Walton. Pic: John Mokrzycki/WA News

WA Football Commission chief executive Gary Walton has all the questions.

He just needs answers.

Walton finds himself in WA football's hottest seat at a time when the football industry faces its greatest period of change since West Coast joined the VFL in 1987.

In five days he will head his "line-in-the-sand" bid to break the deadlock on whether our two AFL clubs should be allowed reserves teams in the WAFL.

In five weeks he and the commission will sit down with AFL heavyweights to discuss the ownership and licence structures of West Coast and Fremantle.

And over the next five years they will be in talks with the State Government trying to nut out a new financial model for the game in WA when AFL football moves to the new stadium at Burswood in 2018.

The WAFC must decide what to do with Patersons Stadium which has previously been the financial engine powering the game here.

Walton is not optimistic of a quick resolution on the reserves issue, just adamant that it is time to stop the "to-ing and fro-ing" between the parties and move the issue towards an outcome.

Here are his thoughts on the other big issues facing WA football.

AFL licences

"We certainly see ownership of the clubs and ownership of the licences as two separate things. One is more a governance thing and the other is about funding.

"If there was any trading of the licences it would have to be around future funding.

"To lock that in. What the licences give us at the moment is the so-called royalty stream from the AFL clubs.

"The AFL also gives us funding. Any trading of the licences would have to ensure that those revenue streams are protected."

What is the new financial model when the new stadium opens?

"As important as anything I am doing. We have got the football commission's business being transferred from Patersons Stadium to Burswood. This oval and what we generate from this oval is the fuel for football."

What happens to Patersons Stadium in the short and longer term?

"What happens over the next five or six years with this oval may require a level of capital investment. Video screens get older, sound systems get older, the seating gets older.

"This provided us with a very independent, secure revenue stream and it also provided us with a capital base, or what I call a future fund, particularly in terms of the land at the western end.

"That was potentially developable land. That eight hectares gives us a secure future and we need to have that secure future going forward whatever the shape may be.

"That is the first part of the discussion with the government now.

"They know we need the revenue to feed down into WAFL and amateurs and community football below that.

"We believe they will deal the right deal at the end of the day."

The West Australian

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