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The study -- AFL team performance and football expenditure -- looked at the football department spending and on-field success of AFL clubs between 1994 and 2011.
It found that, over recent years, clubs that spent 10 percent above average on their football departments enjoyed a 9.5 percent increase in their winning ratio during the home-and-away season. The chance of winning a premiership jumped by 7 percent.
"Spending currently explains only a relatively small proportion of the variation in AFL teams’ performances," according to lead researcher Professor Jeff Borland , from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Business and Economics.
But the research did find that the impact of money on success is growing stronger.
"In the mid-1990s and early 2000s the relation between clubs’ spending and their performances was too small to be accurately measured," Professor Borland said.
"But by the late 2000s the relation was stronger and had become statistically significant."
The research team -- which also includes Professor Ross Booth from Monash University -- believes the AFL is correct to be seeking to address differences in spending between clubs.
"We don’t want this trend to continue," Professor Borland said. "So the AFL needs to strengthen its equalisation policies".
However the study argues that the AFL may need to go even further.
"Other factors such as the quality of club management and coaching are likely to be just as important to a team’s performance, as how much they spend," Professor Borland said.
"So equalisation policies also need to make sure that clubs are managed well and are spending their money wisely."