CLUB payments to footballers may be putting pressure on sponsors, some of whom say they do not feel they are getting patronage in return.
Several pub owners who sponsor central Victorian football teams say the game has become all about money as clubs turn to businesses such as bars to afford top players.
A Heathcote League area publican who did not want to be named said he felt blackmailed to sponsor the club in his town.
But other publican sponsors in the Bendigo, Loddon Valley, Heathcote District and the North Central football league areas say they feel well supported by their clubs.
The Heathcote league sponsor said football clubs' own businesses had edged out the pubs by offering the same services.
The sponsor said he felt "blackmailed" into supporting his football club, because it was part of the community, and otherwise the pub would get a bad name.
He said local football was now a money driven business.
"Football clubs now they run their own business. They've actually now taken over, have their own bars, bar facility, they have their own function centres ... and make more money than the pubs do," he said.
"It used to be really good, because once the football finishes because pretty much all the players finish and get to the bars, and pretty much fill the pubs."
Wycheproof's Terminus Hotel owner Sandra Cox said the problem was that football was now a business because country clubs had to pay to attract players.
Ms Cox said she had been forced to cut down her sponsorship of the Wycheproof Narraport Football Club, because she wasn't getting enough business, but that matters had improved this year.
She said clubs were forced to run function rooms and bars to finance payments to players.
"A lot of the football clubs they probably try and have more in their club rooms so they're getting the money in themselves," Ms Cox said.
"Some clubs what they pay players, they need to get money in and it's the only way, they can't just survive on sponsorships.
"Most country towns now don't have enough that live in the towns to fill a team, and just say 90 percent of our Wychie boys ... they're all in Bendigo. They've got to entice them to come back, they're not going to come back for nothing."
Maryborough's Bull and Mouth Hotel owner Mick Reid said he was quite happy with how the club he sponsored treated the venue.
"They come back to us and support," Mr Ried said.
"When they play an away game, their rooms won't be open and they come back to Maryborough, they come to us and have tea with us, or come and have a drink and celebrate at our premises."
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