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Travel costs still a problem for Cup countries

International Cup 2008

We reported in What support for IC teams? that as per previous tournaments, airfares would be the single biggest issue for the competing nations at the International Cup, which face total event costs of more than AUD$100,000 for each country. The AFL has sourced an arrangement with Qantas and provided contacts for fifteen nations, with Nauru, Samoa and Tonga unfortunately not covered as the airline doesn't fly to those islands. We've now spoken with several countries about whether the offer has made a substantial difference to their costs, and sadly the answer so far is no, though Tonga is hopeful of making their own deal.

We asked several countries if their travel costs were being alleviated. One of the attending teams had already organised flights prior to the Qantas offer being put forward. Another, preferring to speak off the record, were disappointed to find a breakdown in communication. Ultimately they were offered a "Group Facility" to organise multiple aspects of the trip as a single package. Qantas did offer to price match any other airlines, and the country in question will certainly be examining all other options.

The issue here isn't with Qantas, who are not tournament sponsors but providing the offer through their ongoing relationship with the AFL. What's needed is a major tournament sponsor with that money being used to offset travel costs, or an airline as a sponsor providing significantly discounted fares. Or failing that, a once every four years outlay by the AFL in the interests of making the tournament the best it can be. One suggestion we've heard would be for all European nations to depart from one location and arrive as a group. A plane full of Australian Footballers arriving from afar would surely be an excellent media opportunity for the International Cup, the AFL and Qantas (or whichever airline would oblige). Perhaps next time.

On a brighter note it’s understood Tonga are still hopeful of making the International Cup, and are working on a significant sponsorship deal with another carrier (with the AFL not standing in their way), though the arrangement is not yet secured. More on Tonga soon.

The late announcements of some key non-game events has also caused some frustration, with one country concerned that some of the AFL commitments clash with events they had already planned with sponsors and local community. Their general feeling is that being well prepared just five months out from the tournament has actually compromised several of their commitments.

There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to ensure the IC08 is the most successful so far, but it's clear a few support issues remain. Given this is the third such Cup it was hoped some of the problems would have been cleared. Certainly for as long as the Cup is held in Australia (and we expect that 2012 will certainly be Down Under), the huge cost of flights will be the number one issue that needs to be addressed.

If any naming rights or other sponsorship dollars are found, competing countries will be hopeful of some compensation for their costs (with one of the more distant suggesting a larger share to those with larger costs). Although the countries are willing and enthusiastic participants who choose to attend the event, the AFL needs to do everything they can to ensure these fledgling leagues and their players are not left with crippling debts, thus setting back development rather than advancing it.

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Travel costs still a problem for Cup countries | 2 comments | Create New Account
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Travel costs still a problem for Cup countries
Authored by: Michael Christiansen on Friday, April 04 2008 @ 11:11 am ACDT

I am curious - given that my VAFA club has stuck it's hand up to 'host' an IC team - however, we have no idea who or when we will know who, let alone the 'scheduling' of that evening.

Obviously - firstly - need to know that it WILL go ahead, and secondly who we have - - as, the capacity to perhaps assist in someway fundraising at this end via working with an ethnic social/community group or the like - depending upon IC team.

What the whole event needs is a good level of certainty - and, the AFL, in the year of Aust Footy's 150th (which is bigger and broader than the AFL) - the AFL has to come to the party re. this event - - do it right - this time, because, if the AFL aren't willing to fund or co-fund the travel then why should a sponsor (it's too late now to be holding out for a major sponsor at any rate - - unless there's an announcement coming in the next week or 2....)

(I) doubt it!

Travel costs still a problem for Cup countries
Authored by: Brett Northey on Friday, April 04 2008 @ 12:38 pm ACDT

Hi Mick. Great to hear that your club has volunteered - a shame you haven't heard back. I know all the planning is being sorted out now, but one would hope you'd hear back very soon. Obviously it's not our role but if you fire me an email with any details your club sent off I'll see if we can find anything out for you.

I agree it would seem to be getting very late for any kind of major sponsor. I'm not sure how hard one has been pursued, but as I've said before, with the extra amount of exposure the IC is already getting through the AFL website, various interviews with people like Kevin Sheedy, and the extra awareness of international footy this time (especially through news reports etc on South Africa), you would think a sponsor could get at least tens of thousands of dollars worth of advertising from the Cup. Easier said than done, but you'd hope it is being explored fully.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN