MELBOURNE will seek financial assistance from the AFL, due to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking on the club’s Inside Melbourne podcast, Chairman Glen Bartlett confirmed the Demons’ position, highlighting the long-term effect the crisis will have, both now and in the future. 

“At the outset, I would say we’re looking at somewhere between a six and 10-million-dollar hole – not just this year, but in years to come,” Bartlett said.

“It’s difficult to be certain on that, as there are assumptions to be made, but that’s the hole [we’re looking at].”

Bartlett, who has led the club’s significant reduction of debt in recent years, said there were two options to consider in order to survive.

“In terms of cash flow, we would either need to increase our debt again, which we’ve worked very hard over the last few years to reduce from $8.2 million to $2 million, [or seek help from the AFL],” he said.

“Under the letter of arrangement, clubs can flip between assisted and non-assisted, but with that kind of hole, which could be $10million, clearly, we will need some cash flow assistance.

“We’re working hand-in-hand with the AFL and will be accountable to the AFL in that regard.

“It has no impact on the fixture or footy department or any competitive advantage issues – it’s around accountability and finances.”

The full impact of the industry shutdown is still unknown, with uncertainty surrounding all things from membership to crowds, staffing to sponsorship.

CEO Gary Pert, who joined Bartlett on the podcast, reinforced that regardless of the many different scenarios that could play out, the damage would be substantial.

“It’s a big range, because there are so many uncertainties,” he said.

“There are still some variables in there as to whether the club’s going to get any sort of gate receipts from the AFL or the MCC, now that we know the games are going to play out.

“We still might be impacted by members’ responses, and whether they are wanting to continue to sign up.

“There are still some big variables in the mix.”

And while excitement builds for the season’s recommencement next month, the stark reality of the situation remains.  

“We’re starting to see the impact is going to be long term,” Pert said.

“We’re not going to get through this close down [period] and then once the games start, we’re all through it – it’s quite the opposite.

“Big factors, like the world economy, are going to affect the clubs for the next three, four, or five years.”