Crikey is banned by the AFL because we run a website that could compete with AFL.com.au so we’ve no alternative but to bollock all those double dipping conflicted hacks and players allowed inside this exclusive tent by those arrogant monopolists at the AFL.

Price is a well regarded journalist but this was not a column he can be proud of. Firstly, he admitted his own conflict by disclosing that Eddie had looked after his son a couple of times at the footy.

Secondly, he writes for a paper that is committed to the AFL’s broadcasting consortium that locks out rival Fairfax journalists from post match interviews on Friday nights.

Thirdly, Price’s employer News Ltd pays Eddie about $100,000 a year to write a column for the Herald Sun. McGuire is such a powerful figure at Nine these days that his endorsement can get you a big gig – witness the way Tipstars promoter Russell Morris is being touted as a potential future host of Sale of the Century.

And Price should not forget that this is the same Eddie McGuire that gets Emirates Air to fly journalists like Mike Sheehan, Michael McGuire and Gerard Whately to Dubai over the summer.

Eddie is your classic bloke on the make who will sue his critics like The Age at the drop of a hat and also ingratiate himself to influential journalists expanding that legendary network of his.

Crikey has been indirectly part of the McGuire network in that I was great mates with his younger sister Brigette and even drove around the UK with her and stayed with their Scottish relatives near Glasgow.

But we’re glad to be free of it now because it really does seem that too few people are free to say what they really think about Eddie. The McGuire family and empire brooks no criticism.

Price based his Eddie defence on the flawed comparison that others have dual roles such as Dwayne Russell who works for Nine and the ABC.

Crikey believes he is right that conflicts abound in sport but to then defend the most conflicted person of all is just plain stupid. Crikey is about to start a major campaign to try and exposes the huge conflicts that dominate the AFL from the top down.

For instance, we don’t think that the AFL’s most powerful commissioner, Graeme Samuel, should be comfortable with the concept of his son working for McGuire Media and even researching Eddie’s Saturday column in the Herald Sun.

However, McGuire is in another league altogether by dint of his interest in the AFL-endorsed Tipstars footy tipping contract and his interest in Sportsview which provided the websites for four clubs, including Collingwood and in his own words would have made the Waverley Park sale look like a Sunday picnic if they’d floated it before the tech wreck.

Eddie’s conflict in calling Collingwood games as a stand alone issue is not too big a problem in Crikey’s mind because Dennis Commetti has sat on the West Coast Eagle selection committee and Dermott Brereton is also a a director of Hawthorn.

The problem comes when Eddie uses his various media gigs to plug the bejeezers out of Collingwood’s sponsors such that Collingwood’s jumper is now the most valuable sporting real estate in the country. Sponsorship revenue at Collingwood topped $7 million last year which is more than double any other club.

A mention in Eddie’s Herald Sun column, The Footy Show or Triple M is incredibly valuable so you are just not going to get rival presidents or players or player managers such as Ricky Nixon tackling McGuire’s conflicts because they fear adverse exposure. Witness The Footy Show’s attacks on Melbourne Football Club last year and surprise, surprise, they hadn’t signed up with Eddie’s Sportsview.com.

Remember how Eddie carried on like a pork chop last year when AFL executive Michael Easy took up the gig as CEO at North Melbourne. You have to wonder whether Eddie would have taken issue with this if North Melbourne was like Hawthorn, the Western Bulldogs and Carlton and were paying his company $50,000 a year for 5 years as part of the Sportsview wind up.

Last night’s Footy Show was an embarrassing procession of plug after plug after plug. Can you believes they did three live crosses to the opening of Sam Newman’s new restaurant. Doug Hawkins was meant to be covering the Bulldogs team of the century but spent the first minute holding up a sign for his new waste management business.

Now, let’s take a look at what Price actually wrote in The Australian on April 4.

Tackling goes soft when media interests collide

By Matt Price

FIRST, for fear of a perception of conflicting interests, a couple of disclosures. I know and like Eddie McGuire. He’s not a friend, but a couple of times he’s gone out of his way to look after my son at the footy. I once worked for the Nine network and regard McGuire as a rare TV talent.

I’m not so familiar with Tim Lane but have met him and like him as well. If there’s a better sports commentator in Australia, I’ve yet to hear him. Like millions of others, I seem to have spent a lifetime of weekends with an ear to Lane on the radio.

With that out of the way, let me disclose something else: the row over competing interests within the football media is a complete joke. Peer into any AFL commentary box or press room and you’ll find more conflicts than in any edition of The Jerusalem Post.

Many footy writers have deals with radio and television stations, which, at least in theory, question their independence. Dermott Brereton and Robert Walls write entertaining and incisive newspaper columns, but don’t expect them to be critical of their masters at Nine, Ten and Fox.

Likewise, many commentators are former players with close affiliations to their ex-clubs. Stephen Silvagni has made a great start at Ten, but can we expect the Blues champion to offer frank and fearless criticism of his Carlton mates?

Ken Judge is also a new Ten recruit for Perth games. If West Coast travel better this year, will the sacked Eagles coach admit he wasn’t up to the task? I don’t think so.

Ex-players and football reporters can all earn a handy stipend hosting and attending sports nights and other functions. Some of these media identities share managers with current players, another perceived conflict of interest.

And despite Lane’s controversial 11th-hour defection from the Nine commentary team, don’t for a moment imagine the ABC contingent is pure as snow. Lane’s co-commentator, Dwayne Russell, also works for Nine. During the pre-game panel discussion on Saturday afternoon,

ABC radio received numerous callers angry about the failure of Nine’s affiliate, WIN-TV, to show Friday night games in Canberra and other parts of NSW and Queensland. I didn’t hear Russell criticising the AFL rights deal.

The ABC has also employed ex-Richmond ruckman Brendon Gale as a radio commentator. Gale is also president of the influential AFL Players’ Association. It would be interesting to hear Lane’s view about this potential conflict of interest.

In truth, footy is rife with conflicts and perceived conflicts. It’s a big club, and you’re expected to look out for your mates.

One of the few media personalities prepared to break this rule is Sam Newman. Nine’s Footy Show and commentary star can be criticised on numerous fronts, but he’s one of the few pundits who refuses to pull punches. Consequently, whenever Newman lets loose on his old club, Geelong, he’s lambasted for disloyalty.

Of course, all commentators have an overriding commitment to their employers. When’s the last time you heard a TV or radio broadcaster admit: “This game is a one-sided shocker; switch off now.”

We shouldn’t be too disturbed about these conflicts, real or perceived. For most of us, footy is just a game. As long as the commentators are fair and entertaining, we’ll remain happy.

McGuire has a heap of competing interests but at least they’re out in the open; and really, is Eddie cheering — subtly or otherwise — for Collingwood on Nine worse than any of ABC radio’s parochial broadcasters in places like Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide favouring the local side?

There’s no such thing as purity in the footy media, and if the AFL were to ban conflicting interests, there would be hardly anybody left to call the games.

ends

Now, let’s check out Matt Price’s response to our criticism

MATT PRICE DEFENDS HIS EDDIE McGUIRE COLUMN

Hi Stephen,

I’m flattered to have been described as “well regarded”. Thousands would disagree.

I’ll “proudly” stand by my column which, despite the page one blurb, didn’t so much defend Eddie McGuire as point to the innumerable conflicts of interests in any AFL press or commentary box.

Remember, Tim Lane’s only publicised problem with Eddie was his calling of Collingwood games. Yet Lane is happy to call with Brendon Gale, the head of the players’ union and the Richmond ruck coach. And with Dwayne Russell who, with one foot in the Channel Nine team, must surely be compromised when the ABC sports panel discusses the TV coverage of games.

There’s no question Eddie has extraordinary power as the finest plugger in the AFL, Lockett included, but that’s a different – though not unimportant – argument. And one I didn’t hear Tim making, either when he signed on or quit.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to Crikey’s promised expose of sporting conflict of interests. It will keep you busy for a long, long time. (Fortunately I refused an offer from the Dockers a few years back to host their sponsors’ lunch, although I would list that under charity work.)

Cheers

Matt Price

The Australian

Matt Price asked for it so here it is. Anyone who can add three names to the double dipping list wins a free subscription. All it requires is for someone to be receiving income from two different football-related entities. Whilst there is nothing wrong with people having multiple gigs (Crikey has radio spots with the ABC and RRR, although only the ABC pays and $50 a week is chicken feed), the practice appears to be absolutely rife in AFL and reduces the amount of different viewpoints being heard by footy fans. We’re also a little uncomfortable with current players getting paid for media spots. Isn’t this a version of cheque book journalism? By all means interview current players and coaches but don’t pay them to appear as it creates a vested interest and might prejudice the independence of the interview.

The great AFL media double and triple dipping list

Jason Akermanis: The Brisbane star and 2001 Brownlow medalist is now on the payroll at Channel 9 to appear on both the Thursday and Sunday Footy Shows.

Ben Allan: Former Dockers player, Fox Footy commentator, 6PR and Channel Nine Perth. Is also working with Gerard Neesham at the Aboriginal football academy in Clontarf.

Stan Alves: ABC special comments and Sport 927 Monday mornings keep the former St Kilda coach busy.

Neale Balme: Sport 927 as well as being football director at Collingwood.

Kevin Bartlett: Sport 927 and FoxTel which would be interesting if he bumped into Steve Price who sued him for defamation once.

Mark Bickley: plays for Adelaide Crows, regular on SAFM morning show, sometimes panelist on Nine Footy Show, sometimes has segments on Nines “postcards”, used to have a “whats on weekends” segment on Friday’s Seven news.

James Brayshaw: MMM and Channel 9 in the Eddie McGuire mould and on Friday, April 12 the first guest on his program was none other than his brother Mark Brayshaw, the CEO of Richmond.

Dermott Brereton: calls for Triple M and Channel 9 as well having a column in The Age and sitting on the Hawthorn board.

Mal Brown: Laurie Connel’s former bag man, Richmond powerbroker and millionaire WA tough guy who also works for Channels Nine and Seven plus Inside Football.

Jeff Browne: one of the most conflicted operators, Jeff Browne is lawyer to the AFL as well as being lawyer to Collingwood and agent to Eddie McGuire and Mike Sheahan, just to name a few.

Billy Brownless: works in marketing for his old club Geelong and is also paid to appear on Eddie’s Footy Show and for special comments on K-Rock.

Dr Peter Brukner: ABC radio’s Melbourne boundary rider and Age columnist.

Wayne Carey: Was earning a million a year for North but also contracted to the Herald Sun and Fox Footy Channel.

Michael Christian: Channel 10 and Triple M who was inducted by Eddie into the Collingwood hall of fame this year even though he fell one year short of the required 10 years. A former flat mate of Eddie’s who runs Collingwood’s high roller CBD supporter’s group.

Denis Commetti: Has been calling games for Seven and Nine for years whilst sitting on a West Coach Eagles selection committee.

Rohan Connelly: Veteran Age football reporter who double dips with panel work on 3AW.

Graham Cornes: former Crows coach, two sons play for Port Power and hosts a sports show on 5AA.

Shane Crawford: Hawthorn captain and paid Footy Show regular.

Robert Dipierdomenico: Channel Seven and Inside Football.

Jason Dunstall: 3AW and channel 7 special comments man after being let go by Triple M, possibly due to sour relations with Sam Neman. Also has a column in Brisbane’s Courier Mail.

Brendan Gale: millionaire former Richmond legend who is now President of the AFL Players Association and trying to ensure the game spews out hundreds more millionaire players. Also gets paid to appear on The Footy Show panels on Nine and assists with special comments on the ABC. We presume Richmond also pays him for specialist coaching advice. But don’t get wrong, as a Tiger fan Crikey is a big supporter of Benny.

Tim Gossage: Channel Ten Perth and radio PM-FM.

George Grjlusich: Radio 6PR and Channel Nine Perth for the former ABC legend.

Clinton Grybus: Calls for Fox Footy and 3AW after leaving the ABC as their basketball expert last year.

Warwick Hadfield: was double dipping as Geelong’s spin doctor and sports commentator each morning on Radio National.

Kim Hagdorn: Sunday Times writer and 6PR contributor, another example of the News Ltd-Southern Cross Broadcasting connection.

Brad Hardie: Sunday Times columnist and radio 6PR completing another News Ltd-Southern Cross Broadcasting link.

Doug Hawkins: back with his beloved Western Bulldogs as a skills coach and also still working for Triple M but no longer a regular on Seven after a recent guest return to Nine’s Thursday night Footy Show.

Gerard Healy: Calls the Sydney games for Channel 9 and also calls Melbourne games for 3AW whilst co-hosting 3AW’s Sports Tonight. Add to this a Herald Sun column and Healy is one of the true triple-dippers.

James Hird: Earns about $750,000 a year at Essendon but tops this up nicely with payments for appearing on Nine’s The Footy Show.

Rex Hunt: Calls for 3AW and hosts Channel Seven’s Sunday footy panel and is said by BRW to make $2 million a year.

Craig “Hutchey” Hutchison: Seven News and MMM Footy. He is said to be the inventor of Seven’s reality TV program The Game although others reckon it’s been done before with soccer in the UK.

Peter “Crackers” Keenan: C7 sport, Geelong Advertiser, Inside Football and former GFC ruck coach after a stellar career with North Melbourne and Melbourne.

Sam Kekovic: Regular on the ABC’s The Fat but also on Seven’s Footy Panel and Seven’s new reality show The Club.

Leaping Larry L: 3AW, Telstra.com and Sunday Age. Comments on the coverage of Football and is a rabid Richmond supporter. It was interesting that LLL had a debate about the quality of AFL coverage with Healy and Hookes on AW, and when it came to comparing it with the exceptional Sky Sports coverage of the English Premier League, and the Leapsters inference that Channel 9’s coverages pales by comparison, they dropped the subject like a hot potato. All very clubby.

Dr Peter Larkins: medical expert for the Herald Sun, Triple M and Channel 9 as he mirrors the Eddie Mcguire trough.

Francis Leach: JJJ Morning show host Mon-Friday, ‘When Saturday Comes” on ABC Melbourne each Saturday morning, Boundry Rider on Fox Footy and calls footy on 4AAA (through the National Indiginous Radio Service). That’s a pretty good impersonation of Eddie McGuire on the media front at least.

Tony Leonard calls for 3AW, 6PR, 5AA (Southern Cross stable) and also co-hosts The Coulda Been Champions 3AW. He also hosts a Footy Quiz show on Foxtel and is the voice of a footy puppet on Fox Footy kids show.

Tony Lockett: Earning plenty to make this questionable comeback with The Swans but is simultaneously being paid well to be a commentator on Fox Footy.

Gary Lyon: sacked by 3AW’s Steve Price last year, the former Melbourne captain is calling for Channel 9 and writing for the Herald Sun this year. He also has a spot on Nova.

Mick Malthouse: Earns more than $500,000 a year as Collingwood coach but needs to top this by taking some of Rupert’s coin for columnising in The Australian.

Glen Manton: Carlton and Eddie’s Footy Show.

Lethal Leigh Matthews: Brisbane Lions coach who earns $1 million a year but tops it up with some of Rupert’s coin for his full page column in Brisbane’s Sunday Mail.

Eddie McGuire: calls the football on Channel Nine and Triple M and also has a full-page column in the Saturday Herald Sun column. And there are times when he can’t break the scoop because he knows it from being an insider through being the President of Collingwood, shareholder in the dud Tipstars venture and provider of internet sites to clubs. There is no more conflicted and over-committed journalist in Australia. Managed by the AFL’s inhouse lawyer Jeff Browne. BRW says Eddie makes $2.9 million a year.

Andrew McLeod: Adelaide Crows legend and writes a weekly column for The Sunday Mail.

Darren Mead: Port Power player who used to present morning sports show on TABradio before it got closed down in Adelaide.

Sam Newman: Channel 9 personality who also helps Eddie call games on Triple M and earns $1.3 million a year according to BRW.

Steve Price: expresses strong opinions on radio for three and a half hours each morning and also has a well paid gig on the Foxtel footy panels.

Matthew Primus: Port Power captain who writes a weekly column for The Sunday Mail.

Stephen Quartermain: Channel Ten News/Football/The Panel and MMM football caller.

Matthew Richardson: Channel Nine Footy Show and Richmond full forward.

Mark Robinson: The Herald Sun football reporter is now getting paid for a regular spot on Eddie McGuire’s Sunday footy show.

Dwayne Russell: Calls games for Channel 9 and ABC Radio and has a column in the Geelong Advertiser given that he played for the Cats. Also columnises for Bendigo Advertiser and used to columnise for the Sunday Age.

Paul Salmon: making a comeback with Essendon this year and also paid to appear on Seven’s Sunday sports panel as well as previewing the round’s games for the Seven Sunrise program on Friday mornings and then reviewing them on Monday mornings.

Mike Sheahan: The Herald Sun’s chief football writer appears on Packer’s Sunday footy panels and has a contract with Foxtel as well. Also managed by the AFL’s preferred lawyer Jeff Browne.

Kevin Sheedy: Earns $600,000 a year as Essendon coach but for some reason needs even more and gets paid by both Channel Seven and The Australian to write columns and appear regularly.

Stephen Silvagni: Commentator on Channel 10 and columnist in the Fin Review.

Nigel Smart: Adelaide Crows player who writes a column for the Adelaide Advertiser on Fridays.

Patrick Smith: Writes hard-hitting columns for The Australian and also appears daily on radio station Sport 927 along with now being paid to appear on Channel Seven’s Sunday morning sports show.

Daniel Southern: ABC special comments and Channel 7’s Sunday footy panel even though he’s got just about the ugliest head on television.

Max Stephens: Used to be Seven’s main football reporter in Adelaide and now is the Adelaide producer and stats man for MMM Adelaide as well as heading Ricky Nixon’s ‘Flying Start’ Adelaide which manages many players.

Barry Stoneham: works in marketing for his old team Geelong but is also paid Fox Footy and K-Rock for special comments.

Brian Taylor: Panelist on Nine’s Sunday Footy Show and calls games on Triple M. But he’s never biased in favour of his old teams Collingwood and Richmond or the Western Bulldogs where he is the present forward coach.

Michael Voss: Brisbane Lions captain and exclusive television contract with Fox Footy.

Robert Walls: Special comments expert on Channel 10 and 3AW.

Tim Watson: ABC special comments and Channel Seven newsreader, reality TV founder of The Club and Talking Footy panellist.

Caroline Wilson: The Age’s chief football writer appears on Seven’s Talking Footy each Tuesday night and is paid for separate gigs on 3AW, ABC Melbourne and ABC Adelaide. Surely The Age would want their chief football write to give their readers her exclusive thoughts.

Your feedback: can’t see what’s wrong with it

Must comment on your AFL double dipping list. I think few people really think there’s much wrong with players or ex-players making a few extra dollars by appearing on television channells, such as Jason Akermanis. I don’t have a problem with Dennis Commetti being on the Eagles selectors panel either. When compared to the real issues in AFL, such as the mucking up of the broadcast deal, the dodgy finances of some of the Victorian clubs, and the need for a long term vision, this list of journalists and players having two jobs is a waste of your time. It could even be argued that since you also do radio gigs, then you can hardly complain that Caroline Wilson also does a radio gig.

Football in Australia really is at a crossroads- the running of the clubs and indeed the AFL is still redolent of the days when clubs were social organisations rather then business enterprises. Eddie is doing a great job of making Collingwood more professional, and maximising the value of the advertising space on the club jumper seems like part of the club president’s job description.

Cheers, Scott

Peter Fray

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