For the 2001 season the AFL introduced a system for providing priority access for Full Club Support Members whose team is competing in the Grand Final.


This system replaced a system where all Full AFL Members were treated equally. The reasons why the AFLMA believes all AFL Members should be treated equally are:



1) The new system is based on the presumption that there will be a Member's lock out


If the system is designed so that every AFL Member who wants a seat at the Grand Final is able to get one, it stands to reason that no Club Support members of the two competing clubs would miss out.



2) The new system is unfair to those who take out the Competition Package


About 19% of the Full Membership selects to take out the Competition Package. Those members will always be denied the guaranteed access to seats that comes with the Club Support priority. A high percentage of Country Members fall into this category. In order for them to take out a Club Support package they must pay an extra $95.



3) AFL membership is NOT a club membership


While AFL Membership allows the member the ability to support their own club, it is more than a club membership. An AFL Member can attend any Home & Away game played in Melbourne (to a maximum of 30 per year) and all Melbourne-based finals. A Club Membership restricts entry to just the matches involving the particular club.


Every AFL Full member should have the choice whether or not to attend the Grand Final without preference to the club they support, in the same way that they have that choice for every other game at the MCG. The member, not the AFL, should make the choice as to what games they can attend. That is why AFL Members pay their membership fees.



4) All AFL Members should be treated equally


All Full AFL Members pay the same amount for membership, and receive the same entry benefits no matter what sub-category they elect. Therefore, all Full Members should have an equal chance of receiving a grand final ticket seat.



5) The new system is unfair to those families who are divided in their club loyalties


We all know families that are divided in their club loyalties. In fact, for such families the AFL Membership is ideal, as it offers them greater flexibility than taking out club memberships of the teams supported.


The Grand Final ticketing arrangement discriminates against families that don't support a single team. If one of the teams supported makes the Grand Final those family members have to make a choice. Do they take up the priority offer, or do they elect to sit with their family and run the risk of missing out on tickets altogether. If they choose to take up the offer of preferential seating on the first round and the rest of the family goes for tickets in the second round, it will result in the family spending twice the amount of time queuing for tickets than it would have in the past.


The AFLMA is aware of Essendon supporting AFL Members who passed on their priority access to the 2001 Grand Final, so that they could sit with family members who support other teams. In some cases those Essendon fans were then unable to secure seat tickets. The new arrangement did not help those Essendon fans at all, and the AFLMA believes they should not have been placed in the position of having to choose between a guaranteed seat and wanting to sit with their partner, children and parents.



6) The new system encourages people to 'Pick A Winner'


As each sub-category of Full AFL Membership now differs only in the degree of Grand Final access it is possible that many people will select the sub-category that increases their chance to attend the Grand Final. Competition Package Members, families where allegiances are divided, and supporters of lower ranked clubs may select the Club Support package of the team they believe will most likely play-off in the Grand Final.


As the selection of Club Support affects the flow of funds to the clubs, the arrangement favours the top ranked clubs and discriminates against the lower ranked clubs.




The AFLMA notes that the AFL only introduced the ticketing arrangement in response to the AFL Members ‘Lock-out’ at the 2000 Grand Final. The AFLMA encourages the AFL to arrange for a 75% ratio of Full Members to Grand Final. Such a ratio would avoid the need for a system that discriminates against families and Competition Support Members.