Local clubs bucking national trend of COVID decline

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Harry Taylor shows the premiership cup to players from Towns' winning colts grand final side.
Camera IconHarry Taylor shows the premiership cup to players from Towns' winning colts grand final side. Credit: Tamati Smith, Yama(t)ji/via AFL Photos, Tamati Smith, Yama(t)ji

Sports clubs nationally are struggling, with a report showing 83 per cent of clubs lost revenue in the past year.

However, some Geraldton clubs seem to be bucking the trend in the face of these grim statistics.

Towns Football Club president Kandi Cullen said while the Bulldogs did see a few members drop off during the first COVID shutdown, its revenue had increased over the past season.

“We run our club more like a business, so we’ve got more than just football to keep us going,” she said.

Nationally, clubs averaged an $18,500 decline in revenue, reporting losses in sponsorship, fundraising and membership income. To add insult to injury, 47 per cent said their running costs increased in the same time as COVID protocols called for new hygiene measures and extra equipment.

“While different levels of government have stepped in to provide some support to the sector, responses showed that this had only covered less than a third of the revenue shortfall,” Australian Sports Federation CEO Patrick Walker said.

Half of the clubs surveyed said they also struggled to retain volunteers. Cullen said this was an issue for her club as well, as many of their volunteers were seniors.

“Some of our older volunteers were understandably a bit worried, so they stayed away,” she said.

She said lockdowns in Perth and the Peel region brought players back to local clubs from competitions such as the WAFL. While it may have hurt Towns’ finals chances, the high calibre of players brought gate sales up over the last season.

The survey collected responses from 833 clubs, organisations and associations across 94 different sports, including mainstream sports, as well as niche ones like dodgeball and kendo.

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