Dear Members and Supporters,
There is a sense of vulnerability in these uncertain times. I certainly feel it, our game is feeling it and I’m sure many of you do as well. But we will eventually find a way through the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay healthy, stay connected to your family and friends, and we will do our best to keep you connected to your Club.
Like many of you, I have spent some time in the past few weeks watching replays of our recent finals’ successes. This period of isolation has further heightened my appreciation of what we have achieved together. The Club is incredibly grateful for the role each and every one of you has played in delivering that success.
Of course, we are all driven by the desire to experience that success again, which brings me to the reason for this letter. We want to keep you updated with the situation confronting the game and your Club right now.
The AFL Industry
- With no football, AFL revenues have taken an enormous hit. Millions have been lost to the game, and potentially millions more given the uncertainty we face at the moment.
- Significant cost-cutting measures have had the be taken across the AFL, and all clubs, to combat the reduced revenues and maintain our businesses in the short-to-medium term. Hundreds of staff across the industry have been stood down, are working reduced hours or have taken salary cuts.
- AFL players have taken a 50% pay cut for the next two months. That figure will grow to 70% should there be no games of football this season. The AFLW season finished early while the VFL and VFLW seasons have been suspended indefinitely.
- The AFL has mandated that football department expenditure be reduced significantly and has forecast further cuts in 2021 in an attempt to address the current financial situation. This could have a serious impact on the shape of our football program into the future. We are seeking to understand more fully what this might look like and will raise any concerns we have with the AFL.
- The AFL has secured a $500 million line of credit from NAB and ANZ banks, using its equity in Marvel Stadium. This money enables the AFL to assist clubs that require an immediate injection of cash to maintain their business. It is important to note that this money is not a distribution – it will be loaned to clubs and, as such, is a debt they will need to repay.
- As it stands we have no information as to when games will resume. The AFL is committed to a 17-round season (144 games plus finals remain to be played) and is working on a number of scenarios to deliver this outcome. We expect to know more later this month.
- Thanks to the incredible support of our members and supporters, along with prudent management, the Club is in a sound financial position. As such we are an “unassisted Club” and will not need to draw on money from the AFL to maintain our business.
- We have however had to make some very difficult decisions regarding our highly-valued staff. We have stood down 64 staff, while 84 remain and are working reduced hours or have taken significant pay cuts. Every staff member fits into one of the above categories and we deeply regret that this has had to be done.
- The Club is still working to understand if it is eligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy which would provide important financial support. Our staff have handled an incredibly difficult situation professionally and with great care for each other, and their Club. Their response is a credit to the culture we have developed at Richmond.
- Our Aligned Leisure business has also been impacted by the current restrictions and many staff have also been stood down. The strategic decision taken by the Board to diversify Club revenues has never been more important, and we look forward to Aligned Leisure again opening its doors in the coming weeks.
- The Richmond Institute of Sports Leadership (RISL) continues to deliver excellent educational outcomes for its 180-plus students across Victoria. While in lockdown, RISL programming has been digitised, enabling students to learn remotely until such time as normal classes can resume.
- Our players are working as efficiently as they can while away from the Club, preparing themselves as best they can for when they return and ultimately play games. Coaches and high performance staff are using technology to stay connected with the playing group to assist them in getting through this difficult period. As we have come to expect, the attitude of the playing group has been exceptional and we can’t wait to see them run through the banner at the MCG again.
- As mentioned in previous correspondence, our members have put us in a position of strength and it is our members that are our greatest opportunity to come out of this in that same position. Even in the current environment, we are selling memberships and last week we passed the 97,000 mark. For those that have chosen to purchase or retain your membership, we sincerely thank you for your commitment. To those whose circumstances have changed, our membership team is available to assist you.
- The Board and management will continue to work with the AFL to ensure steps taken to maintain the game are fair, equitable and wherever possible, protect the enormous amount of hard work we have all undertaken to build our Club to what it is today.
We are a strong football Club. We have outstanding football teams that are superbly coached. We have a sound, diversified business model, and wonderful corporate support, which has delivered us financial strength. We are home to industry-leading community programs and a membership base the envy of any club in the land. The foundation for all of the above, has been our people and a culture of care and connection. We can be proud of what we have built, and excited by what we will build in the future.
Now, more than ever, we understand that footy is a part of the fabric of our society and we will play our part to get a thriving competition back as quickly as we can. Again, stay healthy and connected and we will keep you updated as this situation evolves. The Club is open for business so please contact us if we can be of any assistance.