Why can't North afford to bottom out?

King Cold

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Nov 9, 2011
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One of the biggest myths in footy is that North can't finish near the bottom of the ladder for any extended period of time.

The reasons given for this are the club's crowds will decline to a point where it hurts the bottom line, and if this happens the AFL will fold, merge or relocate the club.

The 'small 4' clubs in Victoria are Melbourne, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs and of course, North Melbourne.

You would think that none of these clubs could afford a period near the bottom of the ladder, given the reasons that are always cited for North.

Melbourne have sat near the foot of the ladder for the best part of a decade, and the club is finally looking like heading back towards playing finals in the near future. The club was never in any danger of being folded, merged or relocated by the AFL during this period.

St Kilda and the Bulldogs have both recently had consecutive bottom 4 finishes and gone through a traditional rebuild. The Dogs are back playing finals and the Saints will be playing finals again within the next 2-3 years.

Did either of these clubs face being folded, merged or relocated by the AFL while bottoming out? No.

So why should North be seen as any different to the Demons, Saints and Dogs?

Has the club become paranoid because of the proposed Gold Coast relocation in 2007?

That proposal is ancient history now, just like the proposed Melbourne Hawks merger.
 

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juss

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There will be a growing push over the next decade or two that there are too many Victorian teams. If you're a small club, you certainly wouldn't want to be having a down period as those calls get louder.
 

astrovic

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The "can't afford to bottom out" thing died years ago - 2007 to be exact. There is no myth, just a little bit of history.

Throughout the 2000s our debt levels were hideous and Demetriou wanted a small Melbourne club to re-locate to the Gold Coast. Put those two together and you have a footy club that couldn't afford a solitary bad season without being at risk of getting shipped off.

Dean Laidley even said (after the event) that North's trading and drafting approach during this time was focussed heavily on keeping the team full of mature players who could at least hold up an end so we kept off the bottom rungs of the ladder. We brought in a bunch of experienced players who were short term fixes, while other clubs drafted players who are the current superstars of the competition. Lucky them. And boy did we make some clanger decisions!

When we held off Andy D and his re-location plans at the end of 2007, we also committed to a long term strategy of reducing debt while refreshing the list through the draft. One of the things that made this possible was that - to his credit, Andy D said that if we're not going to the Gold Coast, then he wanted to work with us to become more secure both on and off the ground. Not having a forced relocation hanging over our heads for the first time in years allowed us to breathe a little easier and actually focus little further ahead in time than the next week or fortnight for a change.

Our debt is now SFA in comparative terms and the AFL assistance we get has gone from being a lifeline keeping us alive to an offset against the shocking Etihad deal we've been lumped with. Meanwhile on the field we've spent 5 or 6 years building our list through the draft while consistently keeping away from the bottom of the ladder. Only in the last 2 years have we looked at trading with any seriousness, and then because of the advantages of free agency and also with a premiership tilt in mind (whether that tilt is realistic or the work of Don Quixote is a matter of opinion). And during that time we've performed decently on the field - who wants to bottom out when you can play finals?

So yeah, it's been a long long time since anyone at North really gave a tinker's cuss about whether we can afford to "bottom out" or not. Anyone perpetuating this bullshit myth is full of it and doing it for their own reasons.
 

THRILLHO

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Only on Bigfooty could a club's refusal to bottom out be turned into a negative. Playing to win should, y'know, be encouraged.

Besides, we've got three top five picks on the list: Wells, Hansen, Cunnington. Good players, but not transformative superstars. We could bottom out for three years and then miss out on a transformative superstar on the way back up. A bit like the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA. Three of the past four number one picks: Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, but missed out on Anthony Davis a lock for an MVP at some point in the future.
 

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The Half Back

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Only on Bigfooty could a club's refusal to bottom out be turned into a negative. Playing to win should, y'know, be encouraged.

Besides, we've got three top five picks on the list: Wells, Hansen, Cunnington. Good players, but not transformative superstars. We could bottom out for three years and then miss out on a transformative superstar on the way back up. A bit like the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA. Three of the past four number one picks: Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins, but missed out on Anthony Davis a lock for an MVP at some point in the future.
I wouldn't compare Wells, Hansen and Cunnington to Irving, Bennett and Wiggins.
 

Augustine

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St Kilda has a very substantial fan-base believe it or not. They didn't really capitalise on it in their last era of success but it is there. They've got the whole south part of Melbourne down to Frankston that they're focussed on.

Melbourne also have a large dormant fan-base, though not as large as the Saints. They also happen to be called "Melbourne" and are the oldest, "grandest" club in Australia. They're not going anywhere.

Western Bulldogs are only a little bit bigger than us. But what they have going for them is the w'ere the team of the "Western growth cooridoor" thing.

Then there's North. What have we got going for us? We're the smallest and we're the most often linked with debt and relocation in the media. The school of thought that we need to "cull clubs" is still big even though the AFL has seemingly moved away from that policy. So if we fall down that ladder, the knives really will come out. Its no myth.
 
Apr 15, 2013
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St Kilda has a very substantial fan-base believe it or not. They didn't really capitalise on it in their last era of success but it is there. They've got the whole south part of Melbourne down to Frankston that they're focussed on.

Melbourne also have a large dormant fan-base, though not as large as the Saints. They also happen to be called "Melbourne" and are the oldest, "grandest" club in Australia. They're not going anywhere.

Western Bulldogs are only a little bit bigger than us. But what they have going for them is the w'ere the team of the "Western growth cooridoor" thing.

Then there's North. What have we got going for us? We're the smallest and we're the most often linked with debt and relocation in the media. The school of thought that we need to "cull clubs" is still big even though the AFL has seemingly moved away from that policy. So if we fall down that ladder, the knives really will come out. Its no myth.
Yep, and Essendon have all the fans beyond Kensington. Very hard to market to new fans in Melbourne with the location.
West - Bulldogs territory,
Nth and Nth West - Dons,
Other directions are made up of the rest.
 

Tas

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I think that was the case pre recent expansion but isn't the case now and not sure the club has ever said we can't afford to bottom out in recent times.

Most people confuse the club representing the supporters desire to be competitive with it being a requirement to stay alive. Reality is if you are a basket case coach of a basket case team, at NMFC you get sacked. If up to 4 wins is the best you can do then you are not NMFC quality, either as a coach, as players or as a board.

Reality is we have high expectations that the focus of the club is to win as many games as humanly possible and you can't with a straight face say that is the desire of teams stinking it up. The kind of wins most bottom 4 clubs produce is coach sacking level for us, normally when we are shit it is still winning like 7 or so games. Very rarely do we drop below that level, 4 or 5 wins has always sent a coach packing.

Our club has never won a spoon in my lifetime of support (and I have been following since the mid 70s), we have never had a #1 pick, never had a priority pick and since my lifetime are producing a flag every ten years and have been typically in the top half dozen or so clubs in terms of success be it wins, finals performances, etc.

High standards breed success, low standards do not. Those standards were compromised during to financial issues but those times are behind us now. If a coach comes at us and says optimistically he is looking at 4 wins, we will show him the door, you can get a bunch of amateurs who will make a better first of it.
 

Lemma

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People follow the teams their family and friends like, not the exact part of Melbourne they live in. I don't live anywhere near North Melbourne

Maybe people used to do that when the grounds (Arden St, Victoria Park etc) were near where they live, but nowadays all the Melbourne teams play at only 2 grounds so why would it matter where you live
 

Bluelegs

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People follow the teams their family and friends like, not the exact part of Melbourne they live in. I don't live anywhere near North Melbourne

Maybe people used to do that when the grounds (Arden St, Victoria Park etc) were near where they live, but nowadays all the Melbourne teams play at only 2 grounds so why would it matter where you live
Agree, geography really isn't that important these days for Melbourne based clubs. When every team had a home ground the surrounding suburbs could get to easily, sure, but now everything is either Etihad or MCG so it doesn't matter where people live.
 

JPetro83

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Fickle fan base. I just wish back in 2008 they took the offer to relocate to the Gold coast.
 
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Agree, geography really isn't that important these days for Melbourne based clubs. When every team had a home ground the surrounding suburbs could get to easily, sure, but now everything is either Etihad or MCG so it doesn't matter where people live.
Access to the ground isn't the issue. It's about 'why would new supporters join North'?
And geography isn't in their favour in regards to that.
 

the Ziebull

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St Kilda and the Bulldogs are well located in terms of geography.

Melbourne have the original club and the MCC connection.

North have a smaller base and no real geographical heartland
maybe but we have more members than those clubs and have so for the last few years.

I think we have grown enough to the point where in the future bottoming out won't be a big issue
 

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