AFL doomed without controls
Trevor Nisbett.

The AFL competition would not have survived another 10 years without equalisation measures to curb the spending of clubs, according to West Coast chief executive Trevor Nisbett.

Nisbett, one of six club officials on a working party with the AFL Players' Association and the AFL to look into equalisation, said football department salary caps to discourage spending formed the most vital part of the policies to be implemented next year.

West Coast will start next year $650,000 worse off because of a $150,000 increase in total player payments and a $500,000 cut to their annual AFL distribution.

MARK DUFFIELD COMMENT.

Like Fremantle, they will seek assurances that travel costs would be exempt from the football department salary cap because of the added travel burden for the WA clubs. Nisbett said doing nothing to curb spending of AFL clubs was not an option.

"The way that the competition was heading we weren't going to have a competition in 10 years," he said.

"You can't increase the spend in football departments by 10 per cent per annum cumulatively and expect that the industry is going to survive at that rate.

"It was 10 per cent on a big number so it was way above what was acceptable in the industry and what was sustainable."

Under the new rules, the football department salary cap will be $500,000 above the projected average football department spend for 2015. Any spending over that cap will be "taxed" at 37.5 per cent next year and at 75 per cent in 2016.

"We are probably fifth or sixth in football spend outside of our player group currently so we are in a reasonable position, although if they brought in the cap tomorrow we would still be over," Nisbett said.

"If it comes in next year there is an opportunity to trim some costs and most clubs who are in our position will probably do the same."

West Coast, Collingwood and Hawthorn will have their annual distributions cut by the maximum $500,000. Fremantle are expected to face a cut of up to $300,000 after being bracketed with Essendon, Geelong, Carlton and Richmond.

Nisbett said equalisation was unpopular but necessary.

"The clubs that are recipients think they should get more," he said. "The clubs in the middle think they are hard done by because they have to pay something and the three bigger clubs have to pay more than everyone else, so none of us are happy.

"But the majority of clubs understand that if we didn't do something on equalisation we would kill off the industry.

"Both Fremantle and us do have a major commitment to WA footy with the royalties and rent that we pay."

Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron said equalisation was a matter for the AFL but acknowledged concern if there was going to be a "financial impost" on WA supporters.

The West Australian

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