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Eagles to hurt WAFL profits
Eagles to hurt WAFL profits

WAFL clubs are up in arms over the prospect of losing around $100,000 in profit next year after it was confirmed West Coast would play a home game on the WA Day public holiday in June.

WA Day has traditionally been the biggest date on the WAFL home-and-away calendar, with East Fremantle playing arch rivals South Fremantle while West Perth tackle old foes East Perth.

The Fremantle derby has averaged crowds of 8206 on WA Day over the past seven years, with the Perth derby averaging 4869. Both are well above usual WAFL crowd figures, which are around 2000 a game.

South Fremantle's Haydn Raitt, the chairman of the WAFL council of presidents, said the bumper fixtures provided huge financial benefits worth around $50,000 net profit each game.

West Coast will host Richmond in a night game at Patersons Stadium on WA Day next year, with the game starting after the traditional WAFL fixtures have finished.

But the WAFL clubs felt they would take a huge financial hit due to reduced crowd numbers regardless of what time the Eagles game was played.

Raitt has asked the WA Football Commission to define its stance on the issue and will raise the issue with the commission at the next presidents meeting in a fortnight.

"A club would normally make around $50,000 on a day like that, so we'll send the bill to West Coast or the football commission," Raitt said.

West Perth president Brett Rap- oni said the WA Day derby against East Perth was "absolutely critical" to the Falcons' financial result each year and questioned West Coast's commitment to helping the nine WAFL clubs survive.

"West Coast constantly remind all and sundry about their concern for the welfare of the WAFL and its clubs and its development of players within the competition but a decision like this really makes you question their concerns and motives," Raponi said.

"I would have expected the WAFC to strongly support the WAFL, but it appears they have either been blindsided by the decision or simply have not batted hard enough for us. Certainly their role is to deliver the best outcome for football, not just the two AFL clubs.

"Frankly, I don't think they give a stuff about anyone else except themselves."

East Fremantle president Con Tripi claimed the Eagles had shown a lack of respect towards the WAFL clubs by scheduling a game on WA Day. He said smaller crowds would diminish exposure for sponsors and have a dramatic impact on the clubs' bottom lines.

"We've had some reasonable crowds for both derbies and put a lot of effort into promoting them," Tripi said.

"This is a bullet wound, really."

WAFL director Grant Dorrington said WA Day was an important fixture for the WAFL.

"After building this traditional event for WA footy, it would be great to see it remain a stand-alone fixture for the WAFL," he said.