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Sydney hit by AFL's new rules

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The Sydney Swans are angered by an AFL edict to scrap the club’s controversial cost of living allowance.

The AFL says it will phase out the Swans’ allowance, while also pursuing a cap on spending in football departments of all clubs.

The AFL made the decisions at a meeting of clubs in the Adelaide Hills on Tuesday.

Swans chairman Andrew Pridham was disappointed at the phasing out of the allowance, which gave his club additional money in its salary cap compared to rival clubs.

Pridham rejected suggestions the Swans had used the money, some 9.8 per cent more than rivals, to lure highly-paid recruits such as Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett.

“The club has used the allowance for its intended purpose – to provide all players on our list compensation for the higher costs associated with living in Sydney,” Pridham said in a statement.

“We remain extremely disappointed at the ongoing campaign to remove a longstanding and legitimate equalisation mechanism.

“No-one refutes the reality that all statistical measurements show Sydney’s rental and house purchasing costs are around 27 per cent higher than those in Melbourne.”

After the Adelaide meeting, the AFL also agreed to find a way to control spiralling spending within football departments, agreeing in principle that “a mechanism to control growth in non-player football spend is required”.

The league also noted an “aspiration to move towards a pure draft and salary cap”, possibly meaning the end of priority picks at the draft.

The AFL’S newly agreed principles are;

* All clubs to have the capacity to pay 100 per cent of Total Player Payments and Additional Services Agreements limits

* All clubs to have the capacity to fund a level of non-player expenditure to be competitive on field while maintaining overall profitability

* To deliver financial viability and on-field competitiveness, an enhanced revenue sharing system including both central and local revenue is required

* A mechanism to control growth in non-player football spend is required

* There is an aspiration to move towards a pure draft and salary cap

* There is an aspiration to pay the players more, if affordable for the industry

* Supplementary funds are required in addition to increased revenue sharing to address structural inequities, eg fixture cycle, stadia deal, supporter base size, non-football businesses

* Revenue-sharing recipients must remain incentivised to grow and actively address causes of disadvantage

* AFL to provide more central support and enforce stronger penalties for non-compliance

* No club to be unfairly disadvantaged by the new competitive balance policy

* AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said club boards would receive a detailed presentation prior to the model being finalised in the coming weeks

* Fitzpatrick also released highlights of the AFL’s 2013 financial performance, including a total revenue increase of $18 million or 4 per cent to a record $446 million

* An operating surplus, before grants and distributions, which increased by 5 per cent to a record $310 million (from $296 million)

* The AFL’s net profit increased by $10 million to $16.6 million and this profit will be reinvested in the AFL’s Future Fund

* Average attendance per game during the AFL Premiership Season of 32,163, which puts the AFL competition in the top four average attendances per game in world professional sport

* AFL chief Andrew Demetriou’s 2013 package was $1.8 million, plus a $2 million long-term incentive bonus.

The agreement came as the AFL released its 2013 annual report, detailing a massive profit rise and record revenue.

The AFL says its net profit rose $9.9 million last year, to $16.6m.

And the league’s revenue increased to $446m, some $18 million more than in 2012, despite a hit from legal fees associated with Essendon’s ongoing supplements saga.

AFL commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said expenditure last year rose by three per cent to $137 million because of “revenue-related increases and legal fees”.

He said the Essendon scandal made last year “difficult and testing”.

“However … I am proud that when the history is written of doping in sport in Australia, our competition can say we stood up and reported voluntarily, and we opened ourselves to investigation,” he wrote in the annual report.

“We did not put our head in the sand, we did not blame others and we did not attack the credibility of the officers Australian Crime Commission or the anti-doping authorities.”

The AFL last year banned Essendon from the finals and suspended its coach James Hird for a year, among other penalties relating to the club’s 2012 supplements program.

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority has yet to detail what, if any, charges it will lay against the club.

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