The Stadium Management Authority should not be made the scapegoat for lower than expected returns back to the Port Adelaide and Adelaide AFL clubs at Adelaide Oval, and footy’s governing entities need to sort their financial split amongst themselves.
I should know as I helped the Minister responsible broker the deal for elite football’s return into the city. The SMA had no capacity to line it’s pockets with footy-generated cash, and in my view should be freed of expectation that it should find more in its bottom line to hand over cheques to Port and the Crows.
It should be understood that the SMA is a creature of cricket and football - the SMA board comprises four members from each sport.
Hence the sports have an interest in ensuring the effective and efficient operation of the SMA, and they have the means to control it. So it’s up to the sports to ensure the SMA is only making sufficient revenue to cover its costs and obligations.
Government controls also made it impossible for the SMA to siphon away cash for its own purposes.
The Government has a requirement in the Adelaide Oval Act for the SMA to establish and service a sinking fund for Oval maintenance.
The Act also requires that the SMA, after an establishment period, pay the Government a sum up to $1 million per year, which is equivalent to $1 per patron per week at footy games this year. This money is to be used to support other sports in the State.
And the Government ensures its interests are protected by its requirement that the Auditor General review and publish annually a report on the accounts of the SMA. If there is a river of gold, the SMA will be exposed.
Arrangements between the SANFL and the two local AFL clubs may need revising.
It is important to understand how negotiations for footy’s return to Adelaide Oval initially played out.
At the time, the SANFL held the two AFL licences. The SANFL was sole negotiator on behalf of football.
The Government never took the position that it was our job to interfere with the administration of the sports. We never sought, nor were we invited, to become involved in negotiations between the SANFL and the two AFL clubs. The SANFL was the controlling body.
From the Government’s perspective, the SANFL was to receive the benefit of being able to sell surplus land it controlled at West Lakes for urban development. Depending on the way it structures its deals with developers and the risks it is prepared to take, this could progressively provide revenue north of $50 million to the SANFL.
It was then intended that the main beneficiaries of revenue from AFL games at Adelaide Oval should be the two AFL clubs.
But if that is not happening, then its up to the Crows, Power and SANFL to work that out for themselves, possibly with the help of the AFL, not the Government.
*The opinions expressed in this article are Rod Hook’s alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Rod Hook and Associates Pty Ltd or any employee and associate thereof. Rod Hook and Associates Pty Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied in this article.