By Michael Gleeson
Melbourne sold three years worth of merchandise in the month before the grand final with the Demons poised for a “game changing” windfall that will put them in the top bracket of financially secure clubs.
Melbourne sold $2.7 million worth of merchandise alone in the four weeks before the grand final, which according to CEO Gary Pert was equivalent to three years worth of regular sales.
Melbourne sold 10,000 ‘road to the grand final t-shirts’ and would have made and sold more but they could not source more blue t-shirts and Australia Post warned them not to sell more as they couldn’t guarantee shirts would get to fans before the grand final.
By way of comparison to illustrate the size of the surge of support for Melbourne Pert said Collingwood, who first produced the t-shirts in 2010 when he was CEO, sold 2500 leading up to the drawn grand final then an extra 1500 in the week before the replay. Last year, he said, Richmond sold 3000 of that style of t-shirt.
“We have done three years of merchandise in a month before the grand final. That is without considering family days you would normally have in Melbourne after a grand final,” Pert said.
“Those sort of numbers for a club like Melbourne are just extraordinary.”
The club is also yet to properly launch premiership merchandise and signed memorabilia which is expected to reap millions more. Melbourne plan to hold a family day in Melbourne prior to Christmas when COVID rules permit.
The grand final has inspired many of Melbourne’s high wealth supporters, whom the club has historically had to approach cap in hand asking for help to pay off debt, to contact the club asking if they can help.
These rich benefactors are ready to sign large cheques to commit substantial funds to the proposed development of the club’s new facilities off Punt Road around Gosch’s Paddock and AAMI Park.
The plans for the redevelopment, designed in collaboration with the Melbourne Olympic Park Trust are with the state government awaiting final approval.
Pert said the club had been able to withstand losses in revenue of $8 million over the last two years because of COVID and still make a profit. In the mid-season – prior to lock down and crowds being banned at venues – the club had forecast a $4 million profit this year.
Despite the loss of crowd revenue they were still expecting to break even before the finals but now – after the Demons won the preliminary final and then the premiership – the club expects to make sizeable profit this season.
The sale of the Bentleigh Club recently for $23.7 million has meant the club, which was debt free, now has a future fund investment pool that will generate revenues used to financially secure the club long term as well as supplementing for the lost income from the club’s gaming machines.