Richmond has urged well ahead of its Victorian rivals in memberships. Picture: Michael Klein
Richmond has urged well ahead of its Victorian rivals in memberships. Picture: Michael Klein

AFL membership ladder: how does your club fare?

THE AFL has finally cracked the magical million figure for club memberships as Richmond surges well ahead of its Victorian rivals.

The league believes the remarkable figure of 1,008,494 is proof that fans are still in love with the game despite a year of controversy over low-­scoring football.

Reigning premier Richmond had 100,726 paid-up members at Tuesday's official July 31 cut-off date, up 28,057 (38.6 per cent) from last year.

They led the membership tally ahead of Hawthorn (80,302), West Coast (80,290) and Essendon (79,319), with one in 24 Australians members of an AFL club.

Collingwood has dropped to fifth on the tally with 75,507. The Magpies and the Western Bulldogs are the only clubs to lose members.

The Dogs dropped 4407 members (9.2 per cent) to 43,246 after a poor on-field year and sit 14th on the ladder.

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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan told the Herald Sun the total number - up from 907,561 - proved football's resilience and emotional connection to the fans.

"It is a huge part of so many people's lives and a credit to the passion of the supporters," he said.

"A million members has been an aspiration for us for some time.

"Reaching that figure is a credit the clubs and the commitment and connection of supporters."

The league admits that much of the growth has been driven by three-game and five-game memberships, with 11-game memberships steady.

But McLachlan said enlisting fans with three-game memberships was an "entry point" that converted them to 11-game memberships.

Sixteen of the AFL's 18 clubs increased their membership tallies and 13 achieved a membership record in 2018.

Richmond has not only hit six figures for the first time, it has also sold out all of its membership categories guaranteeing a grand final ticket.

Essendon has emerged from the crisis with its fans still on board, logging a record 79,319 paid-up fans, up 11,551 on 2017.

There is also good news for likely wooden spooner Carlton on the membership front, having finished 11 per cent up on last year and breaking its record.

Greater Western Sydney for the first time hit 25,000 members, up 4299 to 25,243, in what was the third-highest percentage leap across the league.

Every northern market club increased its membership, with Gold Coast up 443 members to 12,108 and Brisbane up 16 per cent to 24,867.

The league has promised to revamp its ­Friday-night fixture nex year and is determined to show fans a more attractive open brand of football.



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