The Northern Territory’s bid for the next AFL team licence is urging the league’s administration to forgo commercial considerations and establish an AFL club with “social impact” as the “key objective”.
- An NT-based AFL club would see a significant positive social impact, the report says
- The report acknowledges financial challenges to an NT AFL team
- The report was completed in 2019 but its release was delayed due to COVID, AFLNT said
AFL Northern Territory today released its long-awaited report which it will use to lobby AFL headquarters to make the NT home to an AFL side.
“The Northern Territory does not meet the conventional AFL licence measures of being a region of large and growing population and a non-traditional AFL centre,” the report said.
“Whilst this is clear and undeniable, this project has uncovered a unique opportunity to review this expansion differently.
“The potential of an AFL team based out of the NT to affect social and community change is immense and is worthy of further exploration.”
The Northern Territory bid comes three months after an AFL taskforce delivered a similar report backing a bid for Tasmania to be granted the next AFL team licence.
But where the Tasmanian document implored the AFL to consider financial factors, such as the “substantial” possibility the code would lose ground to other sports elbowing their way into the market, the Northern Territory’s argument is largely based on the positive social impacts that would trickle down from a local team.
The findings of the report by consultants Bastion EBA, commissioned by AFL Northern Territory with a $100,000 grant from the NT government, conceded a Northern Territory team would likely run at a $15 million loss.
The projected annual operating cost is just over $45 million, with an estimated revenue of $30 million.
The report said money from the federal and NT governments would be recouped due to transformative impacts a local professional team could have on social outcomes for Territorians.
The report said the most viable strategy for establishing an AFL team in the NT was through an “unconventional model”.
“The unconventional model emphasises social impact as the core objective of the team to drive funding that fills the revenue gap,” the report said.
“Prioritising social impact would be unprecedented in Australian and potentially global professional sport.”
COVID delayed bid: AFLNT
The AFL Northern Territory board received the report in September 2019 but sat on it for more than 18 months.
Earlier this year AFL Northern Territory chief executive Stuart Totham said administrative upheaval due to the coronavirus pandemic had led to significant delays in the release of the report.
The funding for the “scoping study” into a potential AFL team was first announced by Chief Minister Michael Gunner in October 2018.
“We’ve been a bit distracted. The whole industry has obviously gone through a major upheaval in the last 12 months,” Mr Totham told the ABC in February.
“AFLNT broaching the topic of an AFL team just did not seem appropriate … so we are just waiting for the right time to release the findings of that report.”