Consulting firms brought in on Northern Territory’s AFL push

30 May 2022 3 min. read
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The backers of a Northern Territory-based AFL team have commissioned two further feasibility studies according to recent reports, with global consultancies PwC and GHB getting the nod.

The Northern Territory government and the Territory AFL Taskforce are doubling down on their efforts to land a 20th AFL licence to enter a local team into the national league, with both having reportedly commissioned a second round of feasibility studies.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the Taskforce has engaged PwC to conduct a ‘business case’ study, while a ‘social impact evaluation’ government tender has been awarded to GHB.

Consulting firms brought in on Northern Territory’s AFL push

The PwC contract is presumably a follow-up to a strategic assessment for a proposed $300 million CBD stadium that the professional services giant was brought in to conduct last year, as a centrepiece of the bid. PwC is expected to deliver its report in the next three months, the same time-frame as the previous engagement.

The Northern Territory government has meanwhile awarded a contract to GHD to carry out a social impact assessment on a Territory-based team, which follows on from a previous study conducted by Bastion. The brand consultancy concluded an annual $15 million operating shortfall due to the Territory’s relatively small population, but suggested potential socioeconomic benefits in the range of $460 million per year.

GHD, better known as a global design and engineering consultancy, beat out EY, RSM and Nous Group among others on the tender, and will now be tasked with identifying “the likely positive and negative social consequences” of the Northern Territory having its own AFL team. A final report is due in June, according to the tender notice, but it’s unclear the degree of lag in the contract being awarded and its publishing date.

While the Bastion report emphasised the huge impact in areas such as health, education and crime reduction in arriving at its massive $460 million per annum figure, GHD has been more broadly asked to adopt a “social return of investment’ methodology to determine the financial value of the “social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes” of a locally-based team “compared to the investment required to generate those outcomes”.

On a visit to the Top End last year, PwC CEO Tom Seymour contended that the Northern Territory in building a new stadium would reap economic benefits beyond the social impact on the local population, stating; “To get families to move here you need schools and hospitals, but you also need lifestyle and recreation. If you look at it as a linear investment it doesn’t stack up, but it does if you want to create an environment where you attract people here.”

The Territory AFL Taskforce, which includes former Melbourne Football Club CEO Peter Jackson among its members, is hoping to piggy-back on Tasmania’s bid for a 19th AFL license, which will be voted on when the AFL Commission meets in August. The Tasmanian government also brought in PwC to support its bid in a report lodged in late 2019, while Boston Consulting Group’s Australia co-founder Colin Carter submitted a report to the AFL last year.