The Bulletin’s
interview
with Eddie McGuire last week included this fascinating admission from
the new Channel Nine CEO who intends remaining as Collingwood
President, at least until the end of 2006:

One of the things that I’ve been very proud of is that most of the sponsors of The Footy Show
over the first five years have been procured by me. Have a look at
them. They were all sponsors that were with Collingwood and changed to The Footy Show.


The wording might be clumsy in that Eddie perhaps means the big advertisers stayed with Collingwood and also sponsored The Footy Show, but that quote reads like Eddie is gloating that he pushed sponsors away from Collingwood to Channel Nine.

Err, isn’t that yet another raging example of conflict of interest? One
not-for-profit organisation pays Eddie nothing to be President and
another ferociously commercial operation reportedly pays him $5 million
a year to bring in viewers and advertisers.

Eddie will no doubt retort that he’s boosted sponsorship revenue at
Collingwood and turned the finances. Indeed, he’s on the record saying
that without the Collingwood turnaround he would never have landed the
Nine CEO gig.

Australia’s pay disclosure laws allow the likes of on-screen stars,
shock jocks and fund managers to keep their pay packets private because,
even if Eddie was paid $20 million a year, annual reports only require
a list of the five highest paid “executives” to be revealed and these
are narrowly defined.

To get to the heart of Eddie’s conflicts of interest, we would need to
know the exact nature of his Nine contract and the benefits he was able
to confer on sponsors at Collingwood.

If a Collingwood sponsor, which also poured money into The Footy Show,
was given benefits such as a disaproportionately large number of
positions at the President’s lunch or in corporate boxes, then there
are serious concerns, especially if Eddie had some form of profit-share
at Channel Nine based on advertising revenue.

Given that he’s gloating about usurping the role of Nine’s Melbourne
sales department, where his sister Brigette works, this would not be a
surprise as Eddie’s long-time manager, Geoff Brown, was always adept at
maximising his client’s position during contract negotiations.

Besides, why would Eddie even bother taking an interest in The Footy Show’s advertising revenue, if he didn’t share in the upside? These are quite serious issues that deserve answers.

Peter Fray

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