The AFL, the largest and wealthiest sporting code in Australia, likes to consider itself on a par with some of Australia’s biggest corporations. With revenue of $425 million and one of the highest-paid executives in the country (Andrew Demetriou earned $2 million last year), it should by rights be impeccably managed. However, if the financial disaster brewing at Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney is any indication, Demetriou and the AFL board (led by Rio Tinto director Mike Fitzpatrick) may end up grateful they don’t answer to shareholders.
To paraphrase Warren Buffett, making deals is fun, running a business is boring -- and back in 2009, it was getting pretty boring down at AFL HQ. The AFL Commission determined to relocate struggling North Melbourne to the Gold Coast. Its moves were ultimately thwarted by North Melbourne members, who didn’t fancy their team being relocated 3000 kilometres away.