Yesterday, I read with interest and
considerable dismay an anonymous
report “from a former public company
CEO” entitled “Eddie
is
the wrong CEO for Nine.”

While the person was gracious as regards to Eddie’s
ability and success in front of the camera, the basis of his message was that
Eddie does not have the business acumen or
experience.

Wittingly or unwittingly,
yesterday’s anonymous report clearly elevates this subject into the public
domain. I have not actually spoken
to Eddie for more than seven years but I have followed his entire career
closely.

The facts are Eddie McGuire has lived and breathed television
virtually from the day he left school. Admirably, Eddie has never forgotten or
hidden the fact that he was born and bred in Broadmeadows, a working class
suburb. While he is proud of his upbringing, there was certainly no silver spoon
in Eddie’s mouth as a kid.

He knows and has always practised
the true meaning of loyalty. In 1987 he was made a very attractive offer by
another network, but felt obliged to remain at Channel Ten. In 1994 he was
finally persuaded to join the Nine Network. His outstanding success and versatility
as a sports/football news reporter, host of The Footy Show, the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, hosting the prestigious Logie awards and as a
football commentator are a matter of record.

Television aside, privately he has
proven to be a shrewd and successful business man in his own right with his own
business projects.

In a bloodless coup Eddie scaled
greater heights when he became President of the Collingwood Football Club in
1998. The pre-season hype surrounding Eddie’s involvement with the club was
expected but the team’s performance on field was disastrous. Eddie gritted his
teeth, accepted the challenge and mapped out a revolutionary long term blue
print that has resurrected the great club as a profitable business in a game
where it is very difficult to make a profit.

I recall football legend Ron Barassi being asked what
he thought of the Eddie’s involvement with Collingwood. He responded, “Eddie is
the best thing that has happened to Collingwood in fifty years.”

Eddie has been close to the movers
and shakers of our business world. If he has not learned from their successes
and especially their mistakes, no one will. He is a devoted family man with
nothing to hide.

His former mentor, now Channel Seven
executive Ian Johnson, will want the best for Eddie, but I doubt if he will feel
comfortable if he is confronted by Eddie on a similar level. Ian knows Eddie is
a fierce competitor who has always subscribed to the theory “Winning in not
everything. It is the only thing.”

I am not saying there are not other
people qualified to do the job. I am saying don’t dismiss Eddie McGuire because he is not an experienced
television executive. How many of us remember HSV 7’s former chief Ron Casey?
There are a lot of similarities.

Yesterday’s anonymous
report concluded by saying, “Jamie don’t do it.” I am saying, “Jamie, do
it. Given time, it may turn out to be one of the wisest decisions you ever
made.”

Peter Fray

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