The Melbourne Football Club has all but secured the McClelland Trophy after phenomenal home and away seasons from both their AFL and AFLW sides.
The McClelland Trophy has been a staple of the VFL since 1951. Between its initial introduction into the competition and 1990, the trophy was awarded to the team that finished first on the ladder at the end of the home and away season.
For the 1991 season when the competition merged into the AFL, the trophy was awarded to the team with the most aggregate points in three competitions - the AFL, reserves team and Under-19 sides. After 1991, the award was changed once more to the team that finished atop the table at the end of the home and away season.
The trophy remained merged with the minor premiership until the end of 2022 when the criteria changed. It was decided that aggregate points from the AFL and AFLW would determine a winner. As the AFLW season is considerably shorter than the AFL season, the points from the Women's competition are worth double.
This year, Melbourne is likely to come out on top, taking home $1 million in prize money. Half of the prize money, $500,000, will go to the players. This money is split once again with $250,000 going to the Men's side and the other half going to the Women's side, to be split amongst the playing groups. This money is also kept out of the club's salary cap, acting in a similar way to that of a premiership bonus check, according to AFL.com.au.
The remaining $500,000 will be included in club revenue but will be managed under the AFL's soft cap rules. This means that the money cannot be split entirely amongst football department staff.
As the last round of the AFLW season is set to take place, Melbourne has a very healthy percentage in the McClelland Trophy standings. The Brisbane Lions currently sit second on the McClelland Trophy ladder but are currently fourth in the AFLW. The Lions do have a chance at taking home the trophy as they take on the Dees in the final round of the AFLW season, however, Melbourne sits almost 16% higher than Brisbane which puts the Lions' chances quite low.
This will be the first time since 1990 that the minor premiers have not won the McClelland Trophy, albeit to the new criteria. Both the AFL minor premiers and premiership side, Collingwood, will not take home the award, whilst runners-up Brisbane look unlikely to win it either.
The AFLW season will conclude this weekend with finals set to begin the following week.