Richmond, closing in on finals, boasting record membership and soon to be free of debt, say they will never again relocate home games for money.
After winning the last of three matches that the club agreed to move to Cairns, chief executive Brendon Gale has acknowledged that the lucrative deal he struck for a struggling side in 2010 created ”hostility and vitriol” in many fans. The Tigers were beaten in two of those matches by Gold Coast.
While maintaining the agreement that had Richmond lose a home-ground advantage but earn more than $1.5 million over three seasons was ”the right decision for the club”, Gale was adamant it would not be repeated – or replicated – while he remains in charge.
”Not on my watch,” he said. ”Why? Because we’ve stabilised. I’d be loath to do that [again] because we’re a football club, and a proud iconic football club, that has a national footprint but we play our home games at the MCG.”
Richmond’s financial turnaround coincides with a jump in membership from around 39,000 to 60,000 in three years.
Asked whether the Cairns deal that prioritised financial imperatives was popular with the Tigers faithful, Gale said: ”Absolutely not … supporters are very passionate, and particularly when you lose games they voice that. Absolutely when we lost those first two games they were very bumpy times.
”It was a difficult decision internally to work through … and when you lose games there’s a lot of hostility and vitriol.”
In contrast, Suns chief executive Travis Auld wants his team to continue playing at Cairns’ Cazaly’s Stadium – attended by 11,197 last Saturday – but now requires a new rival willing to move home games to Queensland. Even with the obvious financial incentives that is a less attractive prospect for opposition sides than it was three years ago given the Suns’ improvement.
The Suns do not want to relocate any of their home games from the Gold Coast for several reasons, chiefly their agreement with Metricon Stadium. This leaves the AFL, which wants Cairns to continue to host matches for premiership points, looking for another club.
The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne, playing one home game each in Darwin this season, and Port Adelaide are considered the sides most likely to be lured into sacrificing true home-ground advantage in exchange for handsome compensation from the AFL.
Bulldogs chief executive Simon Garlick has previously indicated that negotiations had commenced with the Northern Territory government to have the Dogs extend their deal in the Top End beyond 2013, but he told Fairfax Media on Thursday the club was now open on the matter of location.
Hawthorn, North Melbourne and St Kilda are the three clubs that have ongoing arrangements to play ”home” games on foreign turf.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.