Melbourne Football Club confirm pokies club sale ahead of Grand Final

by William Brown Last Updated
Melbourne Football Club confirm pokies club sale ahead of Grand Final

It’s a big week for the Melbourne Football Club, who are looking to break their more than half century AFL Premiership drought, but the club has also reached a milestone off the field.

The Age reports the club has ended its reliance on poker machine revenue with the sale of its pokies venue, the Bentleigh Club, for $23.7 million.

The Demons will re-invest the proceeds of the sale into a future fund to generate revenue to off-set the lost income they received from poker machines.

The timely sale in the lead into the grand final gives momentum to the Melbourne Football Club and the notion of the rebirth of the once powerful club.

Melbourne debt free and in its strongest financial position ever

Demons president Kate Roffey and chief executive Gary Pert said in a letter to members that the club was now debt free and in financially the strongest position in its history.

“At a time when we are experiencing great success on the field, the sale of the Bentleigh Club highlights our strength and stability off the field too,” the letter to members said.

“Financially, we are in the strongest position we have ever been in our long history as a club and this is a crucial step in solidifying this financial security.

“The club is debt free and now in a position to future proof itself.”

The club announced mid-year they had put the venue up for sale.

The sale has now been finalised with local property developer Metro for $23.7 million with the settlement in August next year.

“The sale of the Bentleigh Club is the most significant financial transaction in the club’s history.

“It is important to acknowledge the past Melbourne Boards and Administrators who formed the initial partnership with the Bentleigh Club, which eventually evolved into the club acquiring the venue in freehold in 2011.

“Without the vision of these great Melbourne leaders, we would not be in the position we are in today.”

The Demons join their grand final opponents the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Geelong in divesting their stakes in poker machine venues in recent years.

North Melbourne was the first club to get out of poker machines.

Five Victorian clubs – Carlton, Essendon, Richmond, Hawthorn and St Kilda – were all awarded new 20-year licences in 2018 to operate machines.

Dogs get out of pokies

In November 2019, the Dees’ Grand Final opponent the Western Bulldogs finalised the sale of their two pokies venues.

Chief executive Ameet Bains said that the Melbourne Racing Club purchased the Dogs’ 65 gaming machine licences at Club Leeds in Footscray and Peninsula Club in Dromana.

Those machines generated $5.8 million for the Dogs in their most recent financial year of use.

Money raised from the sale went to redeveloping the Whitten Oval, the club’s football department and its community program.

“This is a landmark moment for the Western Bulldogs – the day we officially formalised exiting the gaming industry,” Bains said.

“Everyone in the organisation has worked extremely hard to turn our balance sheet around over the last few years, working down significant debt to emerge in the best financial position we have ever been.

“With the ongoing support of the government, the AFL and the City of Maribyrnong, we are looking forward to progressing our plans for the continued redevelopment of our home at VU Whitten Oval, transforming it into a vibrant football and community hub for the people of the west.

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