It was a sheepish Crikey who paid $6.50 to the lady at the local newsagent yesterday to pick up the latest copy of Kerry Packer’s Cleo magazine, but the tip that had come into our anonymous tips box was too good to pass up.

Cleo’s circulation fell almost 3 per cent to a claimed 192,899 copies in the December 2004 “audit” so they needed a boost – and what better way than publishing some revealing photos of a prominent AFL footballer. The challenge with these editorial exercises for low-brow magazines like Cleo is to find the right sort of footballer and avoid paying too big a fee. This is where our anonymous tipper takes up the story:

I have it on very good authority that Brodie Holland was approached by Eddie McGuire and told it would be a good idea to do the photo shoot as a way of raising his profile. As everyone around the traps knows, Brodie isn’t comfortable in the media and wants to run his own gym when he no longer plays – he’s about to finish a personal trainer course. So how does the photo shoot raise his profile in respect to that?

Eddie also pressured Brodie into not including his manager in his discussions, as managers take 15% of anything outside football (as opposed to 3% of his salary). Closer to the shooting date, it became apparent to Brodie that he wasn’t being paid for the photoshoot – again Eddie was quoted as telling him it’s good to raise your profile, don’t worry about not being paid.

Now we all know that Eddie is paid more than $1 million a year by Channel Nine, but surely his remit does not extend to sourcing unpaid pictorial fodder from the ranks of his flock of young Collingwood footballers for the highly profitable Packer magazine empire?

Then again, Brodie’s fiancee is a model and having featured in Cleo’s most eligible batchelors list last year he doesn’t sound like the shy and retiring type. However, Crikey hears that Collingwood full forward Chis Tarrant was the first footballer approached and he knocked back Cleo which didn’t try to use Eddie to land their first choice.

Conflict of interest issues are never far from the surface with Eddie and we all know that he toils valiantly for Collingwood as the unpaid president. But BRW estimates he’s earning $3.5 million, so when players you can influence appear to be “encouraged” to provide their services for free to your biggest financial backer, the lines do start to blur.

Why on earth shouldn’t Brodie Holland have been paid a fee to get his gear off to help increase the wealth of Australia’s richest man? We’ll formally put this one to Collingwood later today and see what comes back because it sounds plausible but remains an unchecked tip at this point.

Meanwhile, do enjoy the Cleo picture and look out for Eddie to plug the revealing Brodie photo-shoot again on The Footy Show this week.

Peter Fray

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