WAFC focuses on debt

THE West Australian Football Commission expects to sign the naming rights to Subiaco Oval within the next 12 months.

Committed to attracting greater revenues, the commission last month started official talks with its two clubs, West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Football Club, to address the issue of annual royalty payments.

According to WAFC chief executive officer Wayne Bradshaw, selling the naming rights to the stadium, for a minimum of $5 million, would significantly help the commission’s goal of reducing its debt.

“We have $34 million owing on the oval. We are looking to reduce the debt by half in the next five years,” Mr Bradshaw said.

The State Government contributes $1.5 million in annual payments while the WAFC pays about $2.8 million, largely interest payments.

Mr Bradshaw said the organisation was in discussion with a number of potential sponsors and the City of Subiaco.

The City of Subiaco refused permission for external signage on Subiaco Oval when Crazy John’s recently offered the WAFC $5.5 million for naming rights to the facility.

“Crazy Johns is no longer interested and we are now looking for new sponsors. The council was an impediment but we are in discussions and we are looking to proceed,” Mr Bradshaw said.

The commission also is looking to secure a deal with the football clubs whereby a fixed price system is implemented rather than the current percentage-of-profit arrangement.

“Eighty per cent of West Coast’s profit comes to the commission and they pay rent,” he said.

“Fremantle will pay 80 per cent of profits in 2005 but they are paying rent.  We are in discussions so that we have a fixed revenue stream.”

WCE chief executive Trevor Nisbett said he was keen to have a fixed payment system.

 “If we have a surplus of $2.7 million about $2 million of that goes to the commission, plus we pay rent, which is in excess of $2.5 million a year,” he said.

“We would like a sum we could pay on an annual basis that includes rent and that would lower the amount we have to pay. By having a fixed cost it gives us an incentive to make money for the club.

“It is important to us because if you’re competing with 15 other clubs such as Collingwood, which has a capacity to make $2 million, and Essendon with $2 million a year, they can buy the best coaches and they can go to Queensland for a four-day training stint.”

FFC chief executive Cameron Schwab was undecided on what structure would best suit the club.

“Once we have a better understanding of the profitability of the football club we will be able to decide that. It is very early days for us yet and we don’t know how far profits could go,” he told WA Business News.

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