At $300,000 a year, Shane Warne has
probably been a good investment for the Packers. And in a perverse way,
it has been all those exclusives for Women’s Weekly and A Current Affair when the scandals have broken that have probably delivered the most value.

The effect of the arrangement has been like one ongoing cheque book
journalism deal, as Warnie has hardly been worth that money for his
brief entries into the commentary box or those various cameos on The Cricket Show during lunch breaks in the coverage and The Footy Show in Melbourne.

the Packers have certainly profited from the estimated $50 million a
year of advertising around their cricket coverage – and no-one has
pulled in the viewers quite like Warnie. And when it comes to
renegotiating cricket broadcast rights, the Packers know from their
World Series Cricket experience that it’s important to have the top
players on side.

All up, the Packers have probably paid Warne
$4-5 million since 1993, when you include other gigs like those One.Tel
ads, his former interest in the All Stars Cafe at Crown Casino, and
fringe benefits offered to VIPs at the world’s biggest casino complex.

most logical reason for dumping Warnie is that it allows Nine to
increase its profit projections. Stripping out $300,000 a year in
costs, adds about $3 million to the value of a business, assuming the
cost-cutting doesn’t hurt profits, as this move certainly won’t. With
Nine potentially on the block in the brave new world of media ownership
deregulation, the Packers are t*rting it up for sale with a cost
cutting campaign that ordinarily should extend to someone like Warnie
given what has happened.

Dumping Warnie also sends a message to
everyone else inside Channel Nine that no-one is safe, not even
personal friends of the Packers. TheAge
wrongly speculated earlier this month that the Packer relationship
would save Warnie. But the relationship with the Packers clearly
remains in place as Warnie told last night’s press conference:

“I’ve become personal friends with the Packers, both Kerry
and James, and they’ve been very good to me and my friendship with them
won’t change at all.”

“Twelve years is a long time to be
associated with someone, they’re like my first sponsor, I suppose, for
want of a better word.”

“I’m disappointed but I understand
their decision, I understand that’s the decision they made but I’ll
accept that and move on… you’ve just got to take the good with the
bad and move on.”

CRIKEY: Says it all really that
Australia’s most powerful family is so close to such a sexist bogan.
Don’t be at all surprised if the Packers rehire him in the future.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey