The rampaging Western Bulldogs have capped off their drought-breaking AFL premiership win with a record $3.64 million operating profit.
The result is the third consecutive year of profit for the club, despite a $1.9 million “impairment charge” against the value of gaming machine entitlements associated with the failed Club Edgewater project.
The operating profit rests on the back of a record $48.4 million take in total revenue, smashing last year’s previous record of $41.3 million and helping cut debt from $8.3 million to $1.9 million.
The club set a new membership record of 40,081 members in a fairytale year in which it won the AFL and VFL premierships and the women’s Hampson-Hardeman Cup.
Chief executive Gary Kent said the club experienced record growth in game attendance and was the most watched sports team in Australia.
“Winning the 2016 AFL Premiership was a significant contributor to our financial results, but we are also pleased that the Club’s underlying business showed strong growth with commercial partnerships, membership, merchandise, fundraising and hospitality venues all performing strongly throughout the whole year.”
The results mark a fitting farewell for club vice president and long serving director Susan Alberti.
Maribyrnong mayor Catherine Cumming said a civic reception for the triumphant Bulldogs was a way of thanking the team for all it had done in lifting western suburb spirits.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge told Star Weekly the sea of red, white and blue that took over the west through the club’s finals campaign had given the players a buzz that helped them on the field.
“There’s a lot of emotion in football and the players really feel the local support,” he said.
“There’s no doubt when they’re driving through the suburbs and pass buildings like the municipal offices it makes them feel good about the themselves and all warm and fuzzy, so I just think they felt the passion from all the people in the community and it can only have a positive effect.”