To our red, white and blue family,
Wherever you are around the country, I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy as we continue to navigate through an extremely difficult year.
For those in Victoria, and particularly Melbourne, it’s been an extraordinarily tough period. Your resilience has been tested, and you continue to be required to make exceptional sacrifices to get through the health and economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
We hope that the continuation of the AFL season has given you some joy, and that you’re pleased the Bulldogs are still well and truly alive in the race to reach the 2020 finals.
The players and staff in the Queensland hub know how fortunate we are to still be playing football, and we genuinely feel your support from near and afar. As a collective we are determined to finish the season strongly and are playing for all of our fans across the country in doing so.
Round 17 is the AFL’s member thank you round. It’s a chance for us to take a breath and recognise the magnificent support we get from our members - something that has been even more apparent during 2020.
Our members are a special breed. They’re incredibly loyal. We know that because the vast majority of you have decided to pledge your membership with us this year, even though almost all of you couldn’t physically attend games. In fact, we are incredibly proud that the percentage of our members who have stuck with us through this crisis is among the highest in the competition.
Many people have lost jobs, or been put on stand down or on reduced hours, but we are humbled an overwhelmed that you have still wanted to support our club.
That commitment is a truly special thing, and it’s not lost on us for a second. We are a Club that genuinely exists like it does because of our members.
Before the AFL shut down the season after Round 1, way back in March, we were well on track to reach our ambitious target of 50,000 members. We were ahead of our overall number from not only last year but also 2017 and the post-premiership record-breaking membership year. We had more members renewing than ever before, while also having more people returning as members after a gap in their membership with the Club. Our AFLW and junior membership numbers also saw large increases.
Like every business, the onset of the pandemic forced us to reset our expectations. This last six months has demonstrated how incredibly faithful our 38,876 members have been in 2020, and that gives us an enormous sense of pride and confidence.
We don’t know exactly what next year will look like, but we know it will be very challenging and we will again both need your support, and need to support each other more than ever.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had to make some heart-breaking decisions as we adjust our business to prepare for the future and the Club’s reset strategic priorities. The pandemic has forced us to reduce our spending significantly across our administration and football departments, to allow us to progress in the best manner possible and to meet AFL requirements.
Inevitably, this means we’ll need to move forward with a leaner workforce, and prioritise our operations. Some wonderfully talented, dedicated and passionate Bulldogs people will depart the Club over the coming weeks. With an awfully heavy heart, we thank them for their service and wish them well for their futures, knowing they will always be welcome back to our Club.
As we look ahead, we’ll embrace the challenge of continuing to grow as a football club, both on and off the field.
We believe we have one of the most exciting and young playing lists in the AFL, we maintain strong ambitions to reimagine our home base at VU Whitten Oval, and we’re as dedicated as ever to working closely with our community in the west of Melbourne, Ballarat and western Victoria.
Whatever happens over the next few weeks and months, we’ll emerge stronger and more resilient from a year which has challenged us in so many different ways.
Once again, our heartfelt thanks to you all for your unwavering support in 2020. Please continue to take care of yourselves and those close to you.