The voices of AFL fans are set to grow only louder, thanks to the rise of the AFL Fans Association (AFLFA).
Established in December 2013, the association was created to influence decisions made by key stakeholders within the AFL in the interests of supporters. It follows a similar model to one in English football, which has grown to over 200,000 members and has a strong relationship with key bodies in the league, including the Football Association.
Key aims of the AFLFA include building strong relationships with the AFL executive and commission, engaging in discussions with the AFL administration about the views of the fans, and to have an AFLFA endorsed candidate elected to the board of each AFL club.
Brian Clarke, President of the AFLFA, says it is time the fans had a body to represent its interests.
“You’ve got the coaches represented by the Coaches Association, umpires represented by the Umpires Association, the players by the Player Association, but there has been no vehicle for the fans to have a say on the future direction of our game,” Clarke said.
The AFLFA has over 600 signed up members, but are aiming for 10,000 by season’s end. From there, they plan to go to the AFL with the backing of numbers. Clarke believes that with time and weight of numbers, the AFLFA can have a significant influence on the decisions made by those within the AFL.
“The long term aim would be to have some input into decisions made by the laws of the game as an example, as well as the AFL,” Clarke said.
“What we need to remember here is that the AFL don’t own the game, they are the custodians of the game… It is actually owned by the members of the clubs. That’s a very important governance point to remember, and we want to basically, through numbers, be able to effect change.”
Governance within the AFL is a key concern for the AFLFA – an issue high on their agenda.
“I think the governance of the AFL at the moment is questionable. The average fan would like to know who’s in charge – is it the AFL executive? Or is it the AFL commission?”
While the AFLFA is calling it a “slow build”, they believe it can grow into a platform to reflect the views of AFL fans.
You can find out more about the AFLFA and sign up as a member at www.aflfans.org.