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Thread: Our club: the Board, corporate structure and governance

  1. #25
    I think the AFL has excessive control at board, constitution and license level. The AFL built in these tight controls for the AFL's benefit only. It kicked off during the code-wars and super-league break away NRL comp.

    The primary purpose of these controls are to protect the AFL from a break-away rival competition. None of the existing clubs can start a breakaway comp.
    It has very little to do with financial stability.

    The AFL has stacked the deck, such that the clubs need the AFL to exist.
    Whereas it should be that the AFL needs the clubs to exist and they choose to stay together because its mutually beneficial rather than being forced to contractually.

  2. #26
    Yeah, but, loosely speaking at least, we are stakeholders in the AFL too (both us fans and the Swans). And, so far as I'm aware (I haven't checked) they aren't out to make a profit, only to grow the game and benefit the clubs and fans. (Although perhaps sometimes they just think about growth for growth's sake without pausing to wonder what it adds. Also, no doubt egos get in the way and they may lose sight of their loftier objectives and just come to seek power.)

    I take your point about the AFL wanting to nip any breakaways in the bud. And why shouldn't we have the option of breaking away to join a different comp if they are not doing a good job? I would also point out that contracts are agreements voluntarily entered into between the parties to the contract precisely because it is believed that the arrangements will be mutually beneficial. However, I raise a bit more of an eyebrow when the contract is entered into and one of the parties are on their knees with no negotating power (as we probably were in 1993).

    And who controls the AFL? Who are its members/shareholders? Are the clubs? I don't know but that's a question for another day.

  3. #27
    This kind of situation is very much “be careful what you wish for”. There is a long history of member-controlled sports clubs going bad over member disagreements, usually resulting in the players not getting paid - this still happens all the time in the “traditional” soccer world. And sports clubs are notoriously bad at running sports leagues, which is why the Fed govt intervened to set up the FFA, and the Vic govt set up the AFL Commission.
    No matter what ownership structure the Swans have, self-control would always be illusory because the Commission controls the TV rights and the major sponsors. Sydney would quickly go broke if it had to self-fund.
    Personally I’m in favour of the current Board structure, but I can see a strong argument for having a simple minority of directors being elected by, and representing, the Swans members. That would give the members a voice without alienating the AFL Commission.

  4. #28
    Regarding the contract situation, the coercion rules don’t apply when one of the parties is bankrupt. Without Commission intervention, the Swans would have been into the “can’t pay the players” scenario, and Carlton would have taken over the club virtually for nothing. If you’re not sure how that works, research the history of the Fitzroy FC.
    The AFL commission is “owned” by the clubs, and it’s decision-making can be influenced by club lobbies. That’s why the Melbourne Mafia manages to persuade the AFL to penalise Sydney and Brisbane, and why the SA and WA clubs generally never cause trouble - Vic clubs are in the majority. The balancing item is that the Commission has a duty of care to all of the Clubs, and could get sued if it showed too much bias.

  5. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by chammond View Post
    This kind of situation is very much “be careful what you wish for”. There is a long history of member-controlled sports clubs going bad over member disagreements, usually resulting in the players not getting paid - this still happens all the time in the “traditional” soccer world. And sports clubs are notoriously bad at running sports leagues, which is why the Fed govt intervened to set up the FFA, and the Vic govt set up the AFL Commission.
    No matter what ownership structure the Swans have, self-control would always be illusory because the Commission controls the TV rights and the major sponsors. Sydney would quickly go broke if it had to self-fund.
    Personally I’m in favour of the current Board structure, but I can see a strong argument for having a simple minority of directors being elected by, and representing, the Swans members. That would give the members a voice without alienating the AFL Commission.
    Excellent comment. Thanks. Not sure if I entirely agree. But I learned something and my point of view shifted a little.

  6. #30
    Senior Player Doctor J.'s Avatar
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    This is all good discussion, but the AFL in reality has total control of all 18 clubs via the licence agreement. The licence agreement covers all things such as colours, name, merchandise, logo, theme song and basically where and when you will play your games. So what a club has in its constitution matters for nothing if the AFL Licence agreement trumps it, which it does. Which is why there will never be a breakaway from the AFL because the AFL owns all the tangible rights to the clubs. If the "big 4" Vic clubs decided to break away and create another league, what would it mean Lets use Richmond as an example. They could not play games in another league as Richmond or the Tigers or wear yellow and black or use the club song or sell merchandise declaring themselves as 2019 premiers, or sell any merchandise that links themselves to the Richmond identity. In essence they would be playing in another league under a new name with a new identity, all the "traditions" built up over many years would remain the property of the AFL. No club wants to risk that.

  7. #31
    I tried asking the question about the 'Transition Date' in tonight's webinar and they ignored it. Such a pity I wasn't ready to ask the question at the AGM. Oh well.

    I've also emailed the club about it and live in hope they may (eventually) respond in a meaningful way.
    All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated, and well supported in logic and argument than others. -Douglas Adams, author (11 Mar 1952-2001)

  8. #32
    I wonder what is the contractual status of the Royal Hall of Industries (showboat pavilion at the Paddington show ground)?

    The lease and redevelopment is now nearly 2 years on, and I wonder what the extent of contractual obligations are outstanding? Potentially these could be extensive unless there are 'force majeure' clauses which a major corporation would negotiate, but a not-for-profit and sport focused organisation might not have addressed. The Swans financial situation could be disastrous.

    Further, if the soft cap for a football department is drastically reduced, then an enhanced training facility with provision for AFLW expansion and Sydney Swifts would be a luxury in the new stringent environment..

  9. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    I wonder what is the contractual status of the Royal Hall of Industries (showboat pavilion at the Paddington show ground)?

    The lease and redevelopment is now nearly 2 years on, and I wonder what the extent of contractual obligations are outstanding? Potentially these could be extensive unless there are 'force majeure' clauses which a major corporation would negotiate, but a not-for-profit and sport focused organisation might not have addressed. The Swans financial situation could be disastrous.

    Further, if the soft cap for a football department is drastically reduced, then an enhanced training facility with provision for AFLW expansion and Sydney Swifts would be a luxury in the new stringent environment..
    Wonder what percentage of the cost of the development is down to the club compared to state government etc? I have no idea. Could be some saving grace?

  10. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    I wonder what is the contractual status of the Royal Hall of Industries (showboat pavilion at the Paddington show ground)?

    The lease and redevelopment is now nearly 2 years on, and I wonder what the extent of contractual obligations are outstanding? Potentially these could be extensive unless there are 'force majeure' clauses which a major corporation would negotiate, but a not-for-profit and sport focused organisation might not have addressed. The Swans financial situation could be disastrous.

    Further, if the soft cap for a football department is drastically reduced, then an enhanced training facility with provision for AFLW expansion and Sydney Swifts would be a luxury in the new stringent environment..
    Bar a state govt. bailout, I fear for the future of this development.

  11. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor J. View Post
    This is all good discussion, but the AFL in reality has total control of all 18 clubs via the licence agreement. The licence agreement covers all things such as colours, name, merchandise, logo, theme song and basically where and when you will play your games. So what a club has in its constitution matters for nothing if the AFL Licence agreement trumps it, which it does. Which is why there will never be a breakaway from the AFL because the AFL owns all the tangible rights to the clubs. If the "big 4" Vic clubs decided to break away and create another league, what would it mean Lets use Richmond as an example. They could not play games in another league as Richmond or the Tigers or wear yellow and black or use the club song or sell merchandise declaring themselves as 2019 premiers, or sell any merchandise that links themselves to the Richmond identity. In essence they would be playing in another league under a new name with a new identity, all the "traditions" built up over many years would remain the property of the AFL. No club wants to risk that.
    And where is there a ground that could house that many supporters. As far as I can see the majority of supporters like things as they are. As long as they can go to a game or watch on the TV they are happy. Supporters love the game as it is apart from constant game day rule changes. They say so every week on SEN.

  12. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevoswan View Post
    Bar a state govt. bailout, I fear for the future of this development.
    Didn't we also get Federal government funding? I seem to recall some controversy during the announcement because the Liberal party candidate was at the press conference when they weren't the sitting member.

    Regardless I hope the development can continue.

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