We are living through a medical and economic crisis which is causing incredible disruption to our lives. Every part of society is being touched and the AFL and the clubs are not immune to this.
The government’s non-essential travel ban last weekend led to the suspension of our season until at least the start of June. The AFL will review this position on 1 May and determine if players will restart full club training once again. All players are not required at our club in the next month. Some players have travelled back home interstate however the large bulk are remaining at home and all will receive individualised fitness and wellness programs. These programs will be monitored by some of our skeleton football staff.
The AFL have directed all clubs that the skeleton football staff weekly wage bill cannot be more than $25,000 per week in total.
This past week has been the most challenging in our club’s history. Over the past four days we have had to stand down around 100 staff and have kept on a skeleton staff of 35 (including the football department) working on reduced salary of at least 20% and in some cases more. All will be working remotely from their homes during this period.
We know that our members are also being affected and we are being asked many questions. The reality is that in many cases we do not have answers at this stage but when there is more clarity, we will let you know.
Here is what we do know. The AFL and all clubs are fighting for survival. With games being postponed, nearly all future revenues have dried up. The industry is focusing on healthy medical protocols, protecting its revenues and maintaining a positive member sentiment. We are in continuous planning mode in all these areas.
All of our club business has come to a grinding halt. We have no games, no gym, no food, no gaming and no beverage business. We have very little to no foreseen revenues in the short term.
This has been incredibly painful for our people but we know that many of our members will also be experiencing this in their own job situations. We hope that you are handling this as well as possible and, if you are experiencing issues during this period, we encourage you to seek professional assistance and support.
As indicated, our players have been sent home along with all but a handful of football staff. The message to our players is the same as it is for everyone. The first priority is their health and helping their families and others close to them.
We are starting to be asked about what happens to membership and reserved seat packages that have been bought. When we, and the other clubs get our immediate steps assured, we will give questions like that our priority. Right now, all clubs and the AFL have been working on a common strategy and offer to members and we need a little more time before we can present options to you.
Football is incredibly important to us all. We love our game; we love winning and the joy that gives us. We love the debates around the game and the way it connects us all. We love reaching out to thousands each year through our community work. But right now, the most important thing is ensuring we get through this together.
So please listen to the advice of the experts. Follow their direction. Importantly, look out for each other. Many people will be having a tough time and if we all help each other we can get through this.
Football will be back, but until that time we thank you for your ongoing support of our club, we need it more than ever before.
Colin Carter – President
Brian Cook – Chief Executive