The complex deal, negotiated over the past fortnight between the MCC’s Fox and AFL executive Travis Auld, now places pressure on head office to achieve a similar deal for its Marvel Stadium clubs St Kilda, North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. Essendon and Carlton, who split their home games between the two venues, would also benefit.
Fox told the clubs the unforeseen cash boost was in part a goodwill gesture from the stadium in tough times and one that underlined the spirit of the long-term agreement with the AFL and the MCG, which now runs until 2057.
Under the complex new arrangement the AFL will pay the MCG a significantly reduced ground management fee and the stadium in turn will forward the majority of that fee – about $6 million – to the home clubs.
The deal was predicated on the AFL’s agreement to meet an albeit reduced rental commitment to the stadium on the condition that most of the money was then passed to the clubs. Generally the MCC receives money back from the AFL in a two-way deal dependent on attendance numbers and total matches, including finals.
Should the season continue without spectators, the MCG will receive no food and beverage revenue, with the AFL controlling and holding the rights to all advertising signage including the scoreboard.
Generally the AFL-MCG deal dictates that the competition delivers the stadium 10 of the 12 best home and away games along with every preliminary final hosted by a Victorian team and the grand final.
Under the revised 2020 fixture the MCG is expected to host a remaining 30-35 home and away games, a prediction still contingent upon state border restrictions.
An early winner in the new deal is Collingwood, who host three MCG matches in the revised fixture’s first block of four, which is expected to net the Magpies an estimated $540,000 just for starters. It will also provide some compensation for Hawthorn, who stand to lose millions of dollars under their agreement with the Tasmanian government due to that state’s restrictions and the stand by Premier Peter Gutwein.
With AFL boss Gillon McLachlan still hopeful of reaching a new deal with the AFL’s broadcasters before the June 11 season resumption, there has been some unrest among clubs given the broadcast rights are delivered direct to head office. The AFL will cover only club player payments from the broadcast money for the remainder of the season.
The unforecast MCG match returns should move some way towards appeasing those clubs questioning the heavy cost of returning to play without revenue from attendances.
Should state government restrictions ease to allow some members, corporates and general supporters back into the stadium the emergency deal would be revisited.
Caroline Wilson is a Walkley award-winning columnist and former chief football writer for The Age.