April 05, 2018

The AFL temporarily changed its logo at AFL Hous to 'Yes' , in support of marriage equality.

The AFL ought to be commended for their efforts in leading social change, as should the 18 clubs who make up the competition.

The Melbourne Football Club made the gutsy and courageous decision to withdraw from the gaming industry yesterday, announcing it will sell the club’s two gambling venues housing 180 poker machines.

Joining North Melbourne — who cut ties with gaming machines in 2008 — as the only other Victorian club not to profit from pokies.

Two million dollars of net profit down the gurgler.

In the infancy of his chairmanship, AFL commissioner Richard Goyder expressed his distaste that clubs profited from problem gamblers.

The league even formed a taskforce to investigate methods to reduce the reliance clubs have on machines.

It sparked angst from some clubs, with outspoken Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett labelling the AFL’s stance as ‘‘highly hypocritical’’ — given the league’s ties with sports wagering companies.

Being an avid Hawthorn supporter I love what Jeff’s done with the football club but have to disagree with him on this occasion.

Get on with the times Jeffrey.

In the 2016-2017 financial year, 17 venues from the nine Victorian-based clubs, including Melbourne, contributed $94million in revenue.

Three clubs led the charge on poker machines, with Carlton operating 290, Brisbane 200 and Essendon 190.

This isn’t something the AFL is proud of, nor should they be.

On the flipside, Adelaide, Fremantle, Gold Coast, West Coast, North Melbourne, Sydney and GWS operate zero which proves clubs needn’t be reliant on the revenue they raise.

I think it is only a matter of time before the league makes a bold push to ban clubs from profiting from poker machines altogether.

The AFL made an eye-catching statement on the outside of its Docklands headquarters last year during the Same Sex Marriage debate.

With the logo replaced with a ‘Yes’ sign, sending a message and taking a leadership role on social issues.

Dreamtime at the ‘G, a Pride Match and previously a Multicultural Round — are a number of examples of the AFL doing good.

Yes the odd player gets into some trouble from time to time but all in all the work they do outside football is to be commended.

Cheers to another exciting year of footy being back on our television screens.

Hayden Thomson is a journalist at The News.

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