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AFL signs revised TV deal but future remains difficult

Football

The AFL still faces “significant financial challenges” in coming years despite finalising a revised TV broadcast rights deal and two-year extension with the Seven Network.

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The league has signed off on a new arrangement for the 2020-2022 seasons with Foxtel and Seven.

Seven has also committed to broadcast AFL and AFLW in 2023 and 2024, while Foxtel has not signed any extension.

Seven has told shareholders the rejigged deal will save $87 million across the 2020-2022 contract period.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan suggested the free-to-air rights deal with Seven will be worth an average of $146m per year across 2020-2024.

The deal is the AFL’s main source of revenue and brings much-needed financial stability for the league and its 18 clubs, but McLachlan noted in a statement “we still have a long way to go before we are out of the woods financially as a football community”.

“We must remain vigilant on balancing investment in the next generation of participants and players while maintaining discipline on costs,” he said.

“While the agreement today provides some long-term certainty, we know COVID-19 has also impacted other revenue for the AFL and for clubs.

“We will need to be disciplined and focused as a football community on how we continue to live within our means over the coming years.

“Our football community still faces significant financial challenges over the coming years.”

McLachlan noted the AFL would continue to work with staff, clubs and players on a coordinated response to the financial challenges presented by the health crisis.

The TV deal was rubber stamped on the eve of Thursday night’s clash between Richmond and Collingwood.

“The AFL and Seven are a core part of each other’s DNA,” Seven West chief executive James Warburton said in a statement.

The AFL’s mobile-rights deal with Telstra remains unchanged.

– AAP

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