West Coast have put the cost of having to stage two home games at an empty Optus Stadium this season at $6m, as the Eagles hold on to hope they will be allowed to play North Melbourne in Perth next weekend.
While that figure includes credits owed to the membership base that are likely to be waived by many, Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett warned the AFL’s richest club was “getting closer” to financial disaster.
The Eagles played in front of empty stands for the round seven western derby and Sunday’s loss to the Western Bulldogs, with State Government decisions to lock out fans coming just hours before bounce down on each occasion.
West Coast were allocated just six home games in Perth during last season’s 17-round season, along with playing an away derby. “It’s not a disaster, but it’s getting closer. It’s about $6m over the two games that we’ve lost,” Nisbett said
“There’s an accumulation of credits. But there’s also all of our corporate support who couldn’t come to the games, it’s signage, it’s scoreboard signage. “It’s all sorts of different things that we lose on any given match day.”
Nisbett was hopeful the Eagles would return to Perth following Sunday’s game against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium and host their round 17 fixture against the Kangaroos at Optus Stadium.
“Look we lost a lot of games last year which were catastrophic really for the club from a financial point of view and now we’ve lost two games already,” he told SEN WA.
“So it’s getting to that point where we’re very conscious of losing that sort of finance. It’s really important to get some home games with crowds. “It’s something that we want from a financial point of view, but we also owe that hopefully to our members and supporters who want to get to the football and enjoy themselves.
“But we also understand the government’s position with the health aspect, because that’s paramount to keep people safe. I think with the (WA) lockdown, they’ve got on top of this pretty quickly and hopefully we can change things over the next few days.”
The Eagles have endured a disrupted preparation ahead of their return to their Kardinia Park bogey ground, after West Coast and Fremantle players endured a delay on the tarmac for more than two hours on Tuesday and two lots of COVID-19 testing that stretched into the early hours of Wednesday.
All players from both clubs received negative results. Nisbett said the players had generally been “extremely disciplined” with health protocols.
He was hopeful the club’s reserves team could continue in the WAFL from next weekend. “It’s got to be some concern at the moment, but hopefully we will get back to some normality once all the States - and certainly between Victoria and WA - get everything under control,” Nisbett said.
“Hopefully we can work out the whole situation and the quarantine rules etc with the WA Police and ensure that we can come in and make sure all our players are available to play.”