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The North Melbourne Kangaroos: Sport Club Analysis Essay



According to the Constitution of North Melbourne Football Club Limited (2014), the North Melbourne Kangaroos’ have the following mission:

Maintain, provide, support and field a team or teams of footballers bearing the name of North Melbourne Football Club to compete in the AFL.


The AFL club also has a long-term vision ‘To deliver sustained on-field success’ (North Melbourne Football Club Limited: Financial Report, 2013); to achieve this target, the club has key goals in which they need to meet.

Short-term objectives 2014

The following have been outlined as the short-term objectives of the North Melbourne Kangaroos, according to the North Melbourne Football Club Limited: Financial Report (2013):

  • To meet targets set that will allow the Company to continue to invest in the football department, in particular, player payments, which will give us the best opportunity to achieve on-field success.
  • To come up with innovative ways of increasing the organisation’s revenue in 2014, especially membership revenue. Revenue from sales, events, sponsorship, and fundraising should simultaneously be increased.
  • To create a new and strong clientele base of supporters by penetrating into Hobart and Victoria.

Long-term objectives 2015-2017

The long-term objective, according to North Melbourne Football Club Limited: Financial Report (2013), is to develop a best practice football department.

Core consumers

AFL fans

The AFL boats over 7,500,000 supporters, this acquaints to 40% of the Australian population aged over 14 years. Australia’s largest concentration of football fans (38%) can be found in Victoria. According to Roy Morgan (2013), an enormous 61% of all Victorians support an AFL team; this contrasts to 24% in NSW and 28% in Queensland. According to their research, men make up 55% of AFL supporters.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

There’s a lot more to the average footy supporter than football. Roy Morgan Research data reveals that this huge section of the population is more likely than other Australians to go to professional sporting events.

AFL supporter snapshot

AFL supporter snapshot
AFL supporter snapshot

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, 2013 (Australia), January 2012 – December 2012

North Melbourne Kangaroo fans

According to the AFL Fans Association (2013), Kangaroo fans are renowned for being loyal and passionate about their team, frequently attending games at Etihad Stadium and being extremely expressive and vocal supporters (Shilbury, Westerbeek, Quick, Funk & Karg, 2009. p. 53). Aside from AFL matches, Kangaroo supporters are more likely to spend time at the ballet, at the races and enjoy music, movies and books more than any other AFL club fans.

North Melbourne Kangaroo Members (Consumer) Behaviour

North Melbourne boasts of over 40,000 members being in the top 10 for AFL membership; however, this is only half of the number one membership club in the AFL, Collingwood, boasting over 80,000 members (AFL Fans Association, 2013). However, according to Shilbury et al. (2009, p. 51), whilst the membership is not one of the largest in the AFL, North Melbourne Kangaroo members are loyal, passionate and resilient, displaying habitual ticket purchases and a strong allegiance (Shilbury et al., 2009, p. 54).

AFL club membership smashes
AFL club membership smashes. Source: Australian Football League, 2014.

The External Analysis


The Kangaroo’s immediate competitors are other AFL clubs, e.g. Collingwood and their membership and fan bases. Melbourne has eight teams based in and around the city; of these, NMFC has the 3rd lowest supporter base (AFL Fans Association, 2013). This makes growth within Melbourne difficult for the club, as competition to gain new supporters is ruthless with other strong Melbourne based clubs having had success, more substantial finances and recent winning history to entice new supporters.

The Kangaroos’ secondary competition is other sporting codes such as soccer and rugby league. All of these sports have professional teams based in Melbourne; however, the tribal nature of the AFL fans means that other sporting clubs are not necessarily notable competitors to NMFC as their member bases are much lower (AFL Fans Association, 2013):

  • Storm 15,374 members
  • Rebels 7240 members
  • Heart 6959 members

The Kangaroos’ indirect competitors are other forms of entertainment, such as music concerts and major events. As Melbourne is the headquarters of “major events” in Australia, there are times where these can majorly affect the “spend” of the clubs supporters, e.g. Australian Open tickets, Concerts and Festivals at Rod Laver.

PEST Forces

Political forces that potentially impact the organisation:

Political forces that may affect the sport are drug-related issues and anti-doping strategies to keep the AFL a clean sport. Recent issues with Essendon FC may be a potential threat to clubs such as the Kangaroos as the ASADA inquiry may give the perception that performance-enhancing drugs are prevalent in the AFL. Salary caps may affect clubs such as the Kangaroos. With new teams and new locations arising in the AFL, salary caps may cause controversy amongst differing clubs in differing states, e.g. Sydney Swans have a higher cost of living allowance; this may attract better players; thus, more success (Working to ensure any team can win on any given day, 2014), and so the AFL have to enhance their equalisation policies (Ryan, 2014).

Rules and regulations to make the AFL a safer sport may impact the clubs. For example, ‘the new high contact rule’ enforced for the 2014 season may lead to increased suspensions if not adhered. This directly affected North Melbourne in mid-august 2014 as Brent Harvey was suspended for three matches for misconduct and foul play on the field (Burton, 2014).

Economic forces that potentially impact the organisation:

The AFL is in a fortunate position of being the Number 1 sport in Australia and is also the wealthiest code. Funding from the ASC for grassroots and elite development programs is on the rise; whilst North Melbourne carry out their own community-based programs such as ‘The Huddle’ (The Huddle, n.d.), the AFL carry out almost all of the development programs on their behalf.AusKick. Therefore, North Melbourne Football Club gains the rewards of being part of such a successful code with the funding they receive from the parent body increasing; this is due to more lucrative broadcast and sponsorship deals being filtered down from the governing body to the clubs, e.g. Toyota. North Melbourne received 12.77m from the AFL in 2013. This is one of the highest in the AFL (Australian Football League, 2013).

Socio-cultural forces that potentially impact the organisation:

The ever-changing multi-cultural population of Australia is a challenge to the AFL and NMFC. 40% of North Melbourne’s population was born overseas, and in some neighbourhood’s, more than 60% speak a language other than English at home (Maytree Foundation. (2011). Therefore, as the sport is limited to Australia and mainly Victoria, AFL is not likely to be a new immigrant’s first choice of sport; therefore, NMFC needs to be proactive in attracting these potential new supporters and participants.

Social Cultural trends, e.g. Facebook/Twitter, are allowing the fan to feel closer and learn more about their team. However, as the North Melbourne area has the highest proportion of residences with no Internet connection and a median income among the lowest in the City of Melbourne; this may impact North Melbourne FC and their potential to reach supporters (Maytree Foundation. (2011). In an effort to enhance respect and bring positive attention to issues such as racism, the AFL and NMFC actively plan rounds such as the ‘Dreamtime’ to ensure that indigenous players and fans will not be abused or isolated.

Technological forces that potentially impact the organisation:

Social media is now a big business in the AFL – with a media department employing over 150 staff, focused on creating and seeding AFL content across multiple platforms (Australian Football League, 2013). This technology, along with broadcasting on channel 7, Foxtel and Telstra allows Kangaroos supporters to access all news, updates and live streaming of their team without boundaries (Shilbury et al., 2009, p. 245).

Technological advances such as the ‘video review system’ allow for umpire referrals and fairer play in the sport; this could impact clubs such as the North Melbourne Kangaroo’s as such systems create an equal opportunity for all teams, witnessing events that are too close and too difficult to judge using just the human eye. However, there are criticisms to such technology as they can slow down the game (Topend Sports Network, 2014).

The Internal Analysis


As the Kangaroos are part of the AFL, the number one sport in Australia, competition is limited. The Kangaroos’ 2014 performance, currently 6th, is their best result in 13 years (Year by Year Ladder Position, n.d.). The club has a high profile chairman, James Brayshaw, bringing access to media channels and attraction by commercial partners. The Kangaroos achieved their membership target in 2014 of 40,000 members (4100 from Tasmania). Membership was showing a steady growth per annum from 2011 when they had 30,362, to 2014 when they had 41.159 (a 25% increase over four years) with fans supporting the teams ‘battler’ image (Guthrie, 2014; North Melbourne Football Club, 2014). Average attendance has also increased by 3,000 over the last three years from approximately 25,000 to 28,000 as opposed to teams such as Richmond and Carlton whose attendance decreased by 13% between 2013 and 2014 (Dowling, 2014). Another strength of the Kangaroos is the location of their home ground is at Etihad Stadium; this provides great public transport and room to increase their audience with Etihad holding 53,359 (Austadiums, 2014).


The weaknesses of the Kangaroos’ are North Melbourne’s demographics with their disposable income being lower than some of the other AFL clubs, e.g. Hawthorn. The Kangaroos’ local population being North Melbourne/Flemington is limited, and so the club has had to expand into Tasmania and Regional Victoria to gain a greater market (Australian Football League, 2013). Their poor team performance and financial difficulties over the last decade has affected their ability to recruit marquee players to use as icons, and therefore, their success as a club (Maytree Foundation, 2011). At the same time, past champions, such as Wayne Careys’ poor off-field form, limits the ability to use “icons” in marketing campaigns to a new audience.


The Kangaroo’s should use the teams’ 2014 performance (currently 6th) in a marketing campaign as a turning point for the club achieving their best results in 13 years (Year by Year Ladder Position, n.d). The Kangaroos should continue to develop new markets in Tasmania and Regional Victoria and make a conscious effort to be more visible in the community to drive awareness and participation in the North Melbourne Sports Club, e.g. the Huddle program (The Huddle, n.d.). With their major car sponsor being Mazda, the Kangaroos could create a joint leveraging program to increase awareness, ticket sales and membership using their “battler” theme to drive a passionate marketing campaign via both digital and social media. The Kangaroos could also use the improving technology and increasing trends of social media to their advantage by building rich social media platforms to engage with a larger audience; driving membership to meet the organisation’s key goals.


The major threats to the Kangaroos are the easy access to matches and content via the media; this increases the competition between the “Couch vs Crowd” and could result in a loss of revenue from ticket sales for North Melbourne. A big threat for smaller clubs such as the Kangaroos is that they may get “left behind” in the AFL pecking order with other clubs having bigger marketing budgets, higher-profile players and larger supporter bases. The perception of the “market” that the Kangaroos have been stuck in a “rut” after not making top 8 since the ’90s may have long-term detrimental perceptions for the club. Another threat to the Kangaroos comes from the Essendon ASADA inquiry, which has had an adverse effect on the code in general by bringing unnecessary adverse attention to the sport. Social media and players using inappropriately – adverse effect on the club


To enable the Kangaroos ‘to deliver sustained on-field success”, the club needs to increase its revenue to invest further in the football department. The following recommendations should be established to meet both the short-term objectives and vision of the club (Roy Morgan, 2013):

  1. Develop a 14/15 marketing plan targeting both current markets and new markets (Tasmania/Regional Victoria) based around membership, which capitalises on a good 2014 season and builds a strong revenue base for the upcoming season. This would provide a strong “upfront” revenue stream and allow for further leveraging to those customers, e.g. merchandise, ticket upgrades, incentive-based programs/rewards etc.
  2. Create more social media content and awareness to build a larger Kangaroos “family”. Then re-engage with this audience to get them “closer” to the club – junior development programs, membership, merchandise and football-related content, e.g. coaching tips, training and nutrition.
  3. Build joint marketing/advertising activities with the club’s sponsors, e.g. Mazda. This strategy can greatly increase the club’s overall marketing “spend” by tapping into the sponsors marketing/advertising budgets and establishing a greater status for the club being associated with successful and well-known brands.

As AFL is limited to Australia and mainly Victoria, clubs like the Kangaroos may suffer lower participation rates as the sport is not likely to be a new immigrant’s first choice (40% of North Melbourne’s’ demographics born overseas (Maytree Foundation, 2011); therefore, to coerce this group to the “code’, some smart marketing and development at the grassroots level is required to catch the eye of children from different parts of the world; this should be a long-term project of NMFC.


AFL Fans Association. (2013). AFL Fans Survey. Web.

Austadiums. (2014). . Web.

Australian Football League. (2014). Web.

Australian Football League. (2013). Annual Report 2013. Web.

Burton, R. (2014). No Harvey appeal. NMFC. Web.

Constitution of North Melbourne Football Club Limited. (2014). NMFC. Web.

Dowling, J. (2014). . Herald Sun. Web.

Guthrie, B. (2014). . Australian Football League. Web.

Maytree Foundation. (2011). . Cities of Migration. Web.

North Melbourne Football Club Limited: Financial Report. (2013). NMFC. Web.

North Melbourne Football Club. (2014). We will rise together. Web.

Roy Morgan. (2013). . Web.

Ryan, P. (2014). . Australian Football League. Web.

Shilbury, D., Westerbeek, H., Quick, S. Funk, D., & Karg, A. (2009). Strategic Sport Marketing (4th ed.). Australia: Allen & Unwin.

The Huddle. (n.d). NMFC. Retrieved from Web.

Topend Sports Network. (2014). . Web.

Working to ensure any team can win on any given day. (2014). AFL statement: Competitive balance policy. Web.

. (n.d.). Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The North Melbourne Kangaroos: Sport Club Analysis'. 16 June.

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