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Hibernation? Private ownership? Footy greats weighs in on ideas thrown up for expansion sides


Former Fremantle coach Ross Lyon believes if the COVID-19 financial crisis worsens for the AFL, they should consider putting expansion teams GWS and Gold Coast into “hibernation” in order to save money.

Lyon believes the focus should be on saving the other 16 and says the Suns in particular might just be too great of a financial burden.

“The blockbuster teams, the big clubs draw it in and really fund the game,” he told Footy Classified.

“So if you look at the expansion teams and I admire what has been done, but if we just drill into Gold Coast, are they, for what we’ve pumped in, are we getting return on investment there?

“Are foundation clubs maybe missing out and under real pressure now.”

Garry Lyon however feels that the competition might lose both teams altogether if the pause button is pushed on them.

“It’s a bit far for me, but I like the fact that he’s throwing stuff out there. He’s having a crack and thinking laterally,” he told SEN Breakfast.

“You’ve made this enormous investment and if you go into hibernation, you might not get it back.

“Or if you do try and bring it back you’re going to have to start from scratch again so I’m not sure that’s where I would be going.”

Another idea thrown up was private ownership of the expansion teams.

Former St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt believes it could take some of the burden off the AFL.

“Depending on how dire it gets – when you hear the AFL is looking at mortgaging Marvel as collateral to get a loan from the government – I think they could and should look at measures like private ownership,” Riewoldt said on Fox Footy Live.

“You get some of these high net wealth individuals who might be able to come in and not just as a donation where they hand over money to the club, but as a vested commercial interest in the club for a period to be able to drag clubs off their knees. And then derive some sort of commercial benefit out of it themselves.”

Tim Watson believes the possibility of GWS and Gold Coast becoming privately owned is not something that has just come out of nowhere.

“I heard that discussed even before the coronavirus. The possibility of GWS and even the Gold Coast going down the track of private ownership,” Watson told SEN Breakfast.

“So there might be discussions along those lines.

“If you were to go out there and offer to buy one of those teams right now, you would be getting them at a bargain basement price.”

SEN Chief Sports Reporter Sam Edmund said the Giants might just have a buyer if they went on the market.

“We know GWS have a link to those American bond traders at Pimco, they’ve fallen in love with the game and GWS and they invest their money quietly there,” he said.

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