WAFL: West Perth in financial strife, WA Football Commission in possible bail out

Blank canvas: West Perth has been without a major jumper sponsor this year. Picture: Dan White
Blank canvas: West Perth has been without a major jumper sponsor this year. Picture: Dan White

WEST Perth is in a financial hole and it appears the club will not be able to climb from it without some help if it is to survive in the WAFL.

The WA Football Commission has confirmed it is exploring how it can assist the Falcons, who have struggled to stay afloat in recent years.

It seems those struggles have come to a head for one of WA’s oldest and most-followed football clubs.

West Perth reported a $40,000 profit last year but that was off the back of a $300,000 grant from the AFL to help with its new clubrooms. Take away that grant, and the situation looks grim.

President Scott Ballem said West Perth had completed an independent review of the finances between 2012 and 2017 and found “significant creditors”.

He said they had put “a suite” of control procedures in place to ensure the club’s debt did not get out of hand again.

“The West Perth Football Club is a proud, historic club and we are planning for a long and successful future; but we are currently experiencing financial difficulties,” he said.

“Our current financial position has come about over a number of years. To correct the position and stabilize the club there has been a reduction of the long outstanding debt; however, this is placing a strain on the club’s finances.”

“We have been working with the (WA Football) commission to reach a position whereby they can support the club to meet its financial obligations. What that support could be is still being explored. We certainly appreciate the advice and support the commission has shown the club during this period.”

Among West Perth’s issues, has been its lack of a major jumper sponsor since the lucrative three-year deal it struck with Channel 9 in 2014.

And the back of the club’s jumper, which used to carry additional sponsors, is now bare.

Tens of thousands of dollars was also lost in City of Joondalup backing when the club voted against changing its name from West Perth to reflect the Joondalup region.

In recent months, the club has been looking for a naming rights sponsor for Joondalup Arena.

Thankfully for supporters, the off field turmoil has not transposed to match day performances with the league side sitting comfortably in third and playing with impressive cohesion.

WA Football Commission chief executive Gavin Taylor said a “strong West Perth on and off the field” was important to the competition.

The Falcons’ financial challenges were of “great concern”.

“We are currently seeking advice on what mechanisms exist between West Perth and the WAFC for us to be able to assist the club. Once the options are clear our board will consider the best path forward.”

He referred to the general financial challenges of WAFL sides, speaking of recent initiatives put in place to ease the burden.

Taylor mentioned the reduction to an 18-round season, which reduced football operation costs.

Projects in the works included:

  • an industry-wide approach to player payments.
  • a feasibility study of joint commercial assets across the WAFL.
  • adjusting the WAFL funding model.
  • seeking a long-term broadcast deal.
  • undertaking a WAFL consumer research project to look at new ways to engage communities into the WAFL competition.