Collingwood CEO Gary Pert’s European vision of the AFL

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Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert. Photo: Darrian TraynorCollingwood chief executive Gary Pert envisages AFL clubs will look more like big European sport clubs over the next five years.
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The Magpies plan to grow their already massive club by fielding a team in the inaugural women’s footy league next season and possibly a netball team.

Clubs such as Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid also have strong basketball teams to complement their dominant soccer sides while, like their English Premier League counterparts, they also have women’s soccer teams – and Pert sees the AFL going down a similar path.

“Right at the moment we’ve got a whole lot of really exciting things happening,” Pert said.

“We are developing these [academy] zones, we are looking at going into the area of women’s AFL football, it’s been in the media that we’re currently talking to Netball Australia about potentially having a netball team.

“We are looking at the future of what a sporting club looks like and I would say right at the moment, we’ve been doing a lot of strategic planning around this, over the next five years I think what football clubs are going to look like is going to be more reflective of the bigger European sport clubs like your Arsenals and your Barcelonas.”

Pert said that the sporting landscape in Australia had changed to such a degree that sponsors and governments would no longer get on board with major projects unless it benefited women’s sport too.

“You’ve got a whole team of people actually forecasting, looking at what the Collingwood Football Club is going to look like and, to be quite honest, reading the play of what the AFL is going to look like over the next five or 10 years and trying to be ahead of the game,” Pert said.

“Part of that development [of the Glasshouse], we built the women’s change facilities so we could actually accommodate what we knew was going to roll out which was a women’s AFL team and potentially a netball team.

“All of that element will fundamentally change the club.

“If you talk to sponsors and you talk to governments that are funding sporting clubs, if you’re not providing that diversity and broad elements to the club, then you will be left behind.”

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