Taxing time for Eagles, Dockers fans
Fans at last week's NAB Cup game. Pic: AFL Media

West Coast, Fremantle and their supporters could be asked to subsidise struggling Eastern States clubs to an even greater degree if the league pursues a proposal to bring in a tax on blockbuster AFL matches.

The tax proposal, one of a number of concepts the AFL is considering to financially equalise the competition, could apply to western derbies.

It would come on top of a $2 levy imposed for every adult ticket sold to an AFL match.

The contribution of the two WA-based clubs under that levy came to $1.37 million in 2012, with the Eagles paying $707,000 and Fremantle $630,000.

The blockbuster tax concept could also bring the league into conflict with the State Government ahead of talks over Perth's new stadium.

The Government is concerned about the level to which WA taxpayers, who would fund the $1 billion project, could end up indirectly subsidising struggling Eastern States-based clubs.

Sport Minister Terry Waldron expressed concern about "the introduction of any new levies or charges that made it more difficult for West Australians to get along and support their team".

Ticket levy funds are channelled to struggling clubs like North Melbourne, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and new clubs Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast.

Neither WA club believes the western derby should be subject to the tax because of the contribution the two clubs already make towards funding the WA football system.

The Eagles and Dockers contributed more than $10 million between them to the WA football system in rent and royalties last year.

West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett said the AFL should recognise that money as a tax the WA clubs paid which was for the good of football.

"We make a $6 million contribution every year back to the WA Football Commission, that is a fair tax," Nisbett said. "I think the AFL understand that but I am not sure the other clubs do.

"We are happy to do that because supporting WA football is part of our agenda, but we are making a pretty significant contribution."

Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said a blockbuster tax was not part of a Fremantle submission on equalisation and should not apply to a "mid-tier" club like Fremantle.

"Blockbuster games tend to involve the so-called larger clubs and this in turn facilitates the continued growth of these clubs at the expense of the smaller clubs," he said.

"We have asked them to set a benchmark minimum number of games in prime timeslots in the fixture so you don't have a situation where all of those slots and blockbusters are involving the larger teams all of the time.

"Traditionally the blockbuster games have pretty much been those played at the MCG in prime time-slots, which would include the Anzac Day game.

"We have asked them to consider the full picture when considering changes to equalisation and in our case that includes the substantial funding that both AFL clubs in WA provide to grassroots football."

"We make a $6 million contribution every year back to the WA Football Commission.""West Coast chief executive *Trevor Nisbett *


The West Australian

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