Tigers fear being dragged back to AFL pack

Richmond fears their dominance may be eroded by the AFL's coronavirus-related spending clampdown.
Richmond fears their dominance may be eroded by the AFL's coronavirus-related spending clampdown.

Richmond chief executive Brendon Gale admits he is concerned the AFL powerhouse may be brought back to the pack by the ongoing financial crisis.

The Tigers, who boast a massive membership base, are one of just a handful of clubs that could survive a full year of football shutdown on their own during the coronavirus pandemic.

Others will be saved with help from the AFL, which secured a $600 million line of credit with banks this week.

Richmond, along with rival clubs like West Coast and Collingwood, have used their financial muscle to invest heavily in their football department in recent years.

But all spending by clubs will be reined in by the AFL as it takes greater control of club finances in its bid to steer the entire competition out of the mire.

"In one respect I am (worried) because I feel right now we've got ourselves in a position of strength off the field and a sustainable level of performance on the field," Gale told Fox Footy Live on Saturday.

"I look at our list profile and you'd like to think we're going to be around the mark for a little while, competing at the highest level.

"It's probably fair to say that we're in the upper end (of spending) with the soft cap. We need to invest in those things because we thought they were worthwhile," he said.

"Now, for the remainder of the season, the salary cap's been significantly reduced. So in one respect you think 'yeah, some of those advantages might be gone'."

Gale was one of the key figures involved in helping Richmond fight its way out of debt and into a strong position over the past decade.

Despite his concerns over losing that position, the 51-year-old former Tigers player said he was open to ceding some control of his club to the AFL for the greater good.

"We've had to beg for money and living hand-to-mouth at our footy club was an experience not that long ago," Gale said.

"We've worked very, very hard to build our organisation, build our finances and build our balance sheet, ultimately to sustain on-field (performance) but also to protect us in difficult times.

"But at the end of the day the AFL's got to run the competition in the best interests of the competition.

"By and large there's an incredible amount of collaboration and goodwill to work together as an industry to get through this period.

"If that means a bit more transparency, a bit more openness and the AFL has a bit more control, then so be it."

Gale confirmed the Tigers were committed to fielding an AFLW team into the future but was unsure where the VFL program would sit beyond this year.

Australian Associated Press