Eddie McGuire’s on-air attack last night on Channel 10’s decision to shift its allegiances to Channel 7 in the battle for AFL broadcast rights was nothing short of extraordinary. Last night the Nine mouthpiece and Collingwood president mounted his Footy Show pulpit to deliver his sermon against the evils of the future Seven/Ten alliance and claimed he wasn’t indulging in scare-mongering. Yet he went on to put forward a jaundiced view that relied on the selective use of facts and the deliberate distortion of football history.
Anyone who took Eddie at face value would have to accept the canard that after 45 years of being the AFL channel, somehow Seven had done little that had benefited the game, and its record was instead one of “putting the boot into football”. He also argued that current litigation by Seven against the AFL (and consortium partners) could virtually wipe out the league and its clubs to the tune of $490 million if successful.
And Eddie – that unbiased commentator – ended by making a plea for Kerry Packer to save AFL, and presumably his own club, from the ruin that would almost certainly follow from a Seven and Ten success if Nine was not a bidder. Eddie’s logic metre went right out the door when I also heard him on radio today linking Fitzroy’s demise to “Seven’s watch”. In fact six new teams joined the expanded national competition during that same watch. And Kerry Stokes/Seven was the driving force behind building the showpiece Telstra Dome that hosts so many Friday night games.
Of course as anyone who knows anything about AFL will immediately verify, Eddie’s boss heads up that same caring-and-sharing organisation that shamefully abandoned northern ALF viewers in favour of the NRL, the league’s greatest direct rival. Judging by the reactions of callers to talkback radio, Eddie’s attempt to re-write history so far has impressed few.