The revelations about Steve Vizard’s
blatant greed and dishonesty has got a few people wondering about what
else he got up to during a corporate career characterised by a vast
Melbourne network and fingers in many pies.

The AFR’s
Chanticleer columnist John Durie told ABC Radio Victoria yesterday that
Vizard was appointed to the Telstra board only “because he was a friend
of Richard Alston.” Another interesting Vizard friendship is with
Toorak neighbour Eddie McGuire. It was almost inevitable that two huge
networkers would become mates and Eddie was given one of his first big
breaks in the early 1990s when Steve Vizard interviewed the then
relatively obscure Channel Ten sports reporter on Tonight Live.

But
the Vizard and Eddie relationship is about friendship and business.
Vizard was presumably privy to what Telstra was trying to do with the
AFL internet rights, which makes this extract from Crikey’s account of the 2001 Collingwood AGM very instructive:

The other related party transaction disclosed in the annual
report was the $2,600 sales commission paid by Collingwood to
Sportsview Pty Ltd, the company in which Eddie McGuire is a significant
shareholder.

Sportsview was created by McGuire and Steve
Vizard and snapped up the internet development rights from Collingwood,
Carlton, Melbourne and Hawthorn on ten-year deals where Sportsview got
to capture the majority of the revenue stream, but also fund the
development of the sites.

Eddie pointed out that Telstra have
agreed to pay the AFL $25 million over five years for the rights and
they are in heavy negotiations with Sportsview right now about this.

McGuire
and Steve Vizard sold a 22% stake in Sportsview to listed company
Multemedia for $2.9 million in the 1999-2000 financial year, but this
has since been written down to $1.2 million suggesting the whole
business is worth $5.45 million.

In response to my question,
McGuire sung the praises of the Sportsview deal for all concerned
saying that “it costs Collingwood not a bean” and “we get all the
upside.”

But it would appear there was the prospect of some
serious riches before the April 2000 tech wreck as Eddie told the
meeting: “If we had floated at that time we probably would have made
the Waverley sale look like a side-show.”

Peter Fray

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