Eddie McGuire addresses 'bombshell' claims about AFL future

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Eddie McGuire, pictured here during a Collingwood game in 2019.
Eddie McGuire looks on during a Collingwood game in 2019. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Eddie McGuire has moved to play down fears about the future of a number of AFL clubs after reports emerged that the league will look into the feasibility of an 18-team comp.

Speaking on Footy Classified on Wednesday night, veteran footy journo Caroline Wilson explained how Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham has urged the league to consider cutting costs.

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The AFL has suffered some substantial financial losses in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

Wilson said a full review by top brass might include looking at whether or not 18 teams is too many for the league to survive.

Wilson suggested the likes of Gold Coast, GWS, St Kilda and North Melbourne could be on the chopping block, claims fellow journalist Sam McClure described as a “bombshell.”

“There are clubs that honestly believe that 18 teams is too many in the current financial circumstances,” Wilson explained.

“This is not a review (Pridham) thinks should be done by the Commission, in fact I think Andrew Pridham said to the Commission and their chairman Richard Goyder that they too should be reviewed.

“I think he wants to review the Players’ Association, all the clubs in the AFL, the fixturing, the competition structure, the second-tier competitions, media deals, player managers and what should go on there.

“This isn’t a two-year thing, this is a 20-year plan.

“Some clubs got a little paranoid because although he didn’t say this, clearly 18 teams is something that there is some support for a review of.

“I’m told that after the meeting there was a bit of support for the Sydney chairman.”

Sam McClure and Caroline Wilson, pictured here on Footy Classified.
Sam McClure described Caroline Wilson's claims as 'bombshell'. Image: Channel Nine

Eddie McGuire responds to ‘bombshell’ claims

McGuire, who attended the meeting alongside Pridhman, said Wilson’s claims were on the money.

However the Collingwood chairman moved to allay fears that teams could be axed.

“I don’t think there’s any attack on the 18 clubs, I think everyone wants to get the 18 clubs through,” McGuire said.

“The tone of what’s going on … today was another day where we sat down and tried to work through the machinations of what could happen next year, both good and bad.

“There were a number of scenarios that were placed in front of us.

“Everybody is very focused on the figures, focused on what needs to happen and Andrew Pridham’s position was maybe it’s time to have a good look at everything.

“Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong, but after 27 years, which was the term that was used, maybe it’s time to have a look at what’s going on.

“I don’t think anybody pushed back on it so much. We need to allay any fears (about losing clubs).”

Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham, pictured here speaking to the media in 2016.
Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham speaks to the media in 2016. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Wilson responded by saying while McGuire wants to ensure all 18 teams survive, she’s “not sure everybody does.”

Pridhman explained his thinking on SEN radio on Thursday morning.

“I and others a have long supported need to consistently review our game to make sure it keeps improving,” he said.

“This should be seen as an opportunity not a threat. We have a crisis - let’s see how we can best reset to thrive.

“It’s been 27 years since the last review. All businesses and organisations do this at regular intervals every five years or so - we are significantly overdue - it’s time to look at all aspects of what we do and how we do it to see if we can improve.

“It’s just basic good governance and makes sense. We should see it in a positive light.

“We have been through a tough season and done well so let’s seize the opportunity to get even better.

“Nobody knows the future but we need to look in the mirror to see that we are best placed to thrive over the next 20-plus years.”

Interestingly, Pridhman didn’t mention the possibility of teams being forced out.

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