Wiping debt a focus for Cats

Updated: January 28, 2016
Geelong CEO Brian Cook speaks at the club's Annual General Meeting on Thursday night. Picture: AL PACKER
Geelong CEO Brian Cook speaks at the club's Annual General Meeting on Thursday night. Picture: AL PACKER

Geelong CEO Brian Cook speaks at the club’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday night. Picture: AL PACKER

GEELONG CEO Brian Cook has used the club’s Annual General Meeting to reveal an ambitious plan for the club to wipe its debt.

The Cats currently owe $3.7 million for the Stage 2 and 3 upgrades of Simonds Stadium, and will make a $5 million contribution to the current Stage 4 project.

Cook hopes the “major fundraising strategy” will ensure the club doesn’t have to approach the bank for the money to fund the Stage 4 upgrade.

“We don’t want any further debt,” he told the meeting.

“In fact, by the end of the year we’d love to have paid off all debt and found the $5 million contribution for Stage 4 without going to the bank.”

Cook unashamedly confirmed Geelong will be approaching its “well-heeled” supporters to help.

“In major fundraising projects in football clubs, the 80/20 rule is alive and well – you tend to get 80 per cent of your money from 20 per cent of people,” he said.

“So you try and get your 80 per cent as quickly as possible and the target tends to be high net worth individuals and philanthropic groups.

“That’ll be our first target, and then after that it will be our members.”

Geelong posted a $3.3 million loss in 2015, with poor returns from the club’s three home games in Melbourne and a fall in revenue at its gaming venues identified by Cook as two key areas that impacted on the final result.

However, Cook says the realisation early in the season that the Cats were struggling financially resulted in some significant cost cutting.

“Once we knew we were in a bit of trouble, which we probably knew by about Round 7 or 8, we actually started to cut costs, and we cut $500,000 out of the club.

“That wasn’t a media exercise in any way, and nor did it get out, but it’s what the club decided to do, and we’re pretty lucky that we did that.

Cook also revealed Geelong will spend slightly less on its football department in 2016, down $100,000 from $22.2 million to $22.1 million.

“We do not believe that significantly cutting costs in football will be beneficial to our goals at the club,” he said.

“However, we will continue to ensure our spending is balanced and considered. We aim to get a bigger bang for our dollar in our football area and have managed our 2016 budget to be at similar levels of expenditure to 2015.

“The players will still be receiving 100 per cent of TPP (Total Player Payments), we just make cuts in all sorts of other areas, and don’t believe at all it’s going to affect the high performance levels of our football department.”

The Cats will have to cough up $390,000 to the AFL’s Equalisation Fund in 2016 (up from $300,000 in 2015), however both Cook and president Colin Carter confirmed the AFL will review the current system.

“It appears that the AFL is starting to realise is that this tax is poorly designed, so we think its days are probably numbered,” Carter said.

Home games at Etihad Stadium – Round 12 vs. North Melbourne and Round 20 vs. Essendon – will also prove costly.

“Every game at Etihad costs us nearly $500,000 a game compared to playing that game at Simonds.

“We continue to try and press the AFL on this issue.

“At least the AFL, despite the building program here, has scheduled eight games at Simonds in 2016.”

Twitter: @tom_king79


Kevin Paisley Eyewear