A 106-year-old magazine considered integral to SANFL football culture may never be printed again thanks to a season disrupted by coronavirus and an ongoing decline in sales.
- The Budget’s future is under review after being abandoned for 2020
- Declining print sales and a lack of revenue from AFL matches is behind decision
- Traditional SANFL followers bringing homemade scorecards to games instead
The Budget has been touted by hawkers at suburban football matches since 1914. It’s a weekly magazine packed with player information, team stories, fixtures, and printed scorecards that many followers traditionally fill out at each game.
But this year the SANFL trialled a digital-only edition for the first two rounds of a delayed season — an experiment it said had been in the works for some time due to declining sales in print.
“Across all five [weekly] games last year, we were averaging between 1,400 and 1,900 sales per round, which reflects a steady decline in the past five years,” SANFL commercial operations general manager Neal Matotek said.
“Revenue from advertising sales had also declined significantly.
“This has resulted in a large net cost to fund its production and distribution.”
Digital edition fails to fire
Despite high hopes for the digital-only trial, fans were largely uninterested.
In the grandstands at Adelaide Oval, some fans instead brought notepads with ruled margins and hand-drawn player boxes so they could continue to fill out their own personal scorecards.
“With significantly reduced revenue because of fewer AFL matches being played at Adelaide Oval, neither SANFL nor our publisher could afford the commercial risk or cost of continuing to produce a weekly digital publication in this environment.”
He said the digital edition would be replaced by a 2020 Season Guide, with the long-term future of the magazine to be reviewed at the end of the season.
Mr Matotek said The Budget’s production and distribution was outsourced, with the equivalent of a full-time job and two casuals employed to sell the magazine at every match to be affected.
A life-long tradition
Long-time SANFL supporter Tim Anson has been buying The Budget since he moved to Adelaide in 1979 and joined his grandparents in supporting Glenelg Football Club.
“They’re shouting, ‘Get your budget, get your budget’, really loud, and you can always have a chat with them.
“It’s good value, and quite often it’s young kids selling The Budget too.”
Mr Anson said he was not the type to fill out the scorecard pages, but he did retain editions with the scribblings of some big football names instead.
“I’ve got one floating around somewhere where I got [Adelaide Crows player] Bryce Gibbs to sign it,” he said.
“That was when he played for Glenelg as a 17 or 18-year-old.”
He said fans had long used The Budget to match player numbers on the field to the names.
“It’s about the only way you could do it, but you could do it online now, I guess, if you’ve got your phone in front of you.”
App hits 150,000
Despite abandoning The Budget for the rest of the 2020 season, Mr Matotek said the SANFL’s digital platforms were “growing”.
Its SANFL app had about 150,000 users, which he said had led to “significantly higher viewership of our website content”.
“There is definitely an appetite from fans for local footy news and stories on SANFL players,” Mr Matotek said.
“They are now just being delivered via our digital platforms as an alternative to the traditional printed Football Budget.”