Eddie McGuire and Tony Jones have engaged in an extraordinary live TV clash over refunds for AFL fan memberships.
With the 2020 season suspended due to the coronavirus crisis and no footy for the foreseeable future, many have been left wondering what happens to the hard-earned money that fans paid for memberships.
With no games to attend, many members around the country have been asking for refunds.
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And Jones put the question to McGuire on Nine News on Wednesday night, sparking a fiery debate about what fans should do.
McGuire, president of Collingwood Football Club, asked his members to stick with the club throughout the tough times, saying there would be no club without its members.
However he became incensed when Jones repeatedly pressed him about whether or not refunds would be available:
Jones: As the AFL competition remains in lockdown clubs are desperately trying to sift through the growing financial wreckage and the 'R' word keeps bobbing up – 'refunds'. Eddie McGuire joins us ahead of 'Footy Classified' tonight. Eddie, come on now, as a club president, what’s your stance on members wanting their money back?
McGuire: Tony, it is as simple as this, if you don’t have members you don’t have a club. A club with no members is a memory. We need members to stick with us as much as they can. If anyone gets into financial hardship, speak to us, we are there together. The members are the club, it’s not as if we’re privately owned. This is all about sticking together through tough times and I can tell you and you know the history of Collingwood. We were founded in the darkest times during the depression in 1890s and got through by building the stands of Victoria Park. I am telling you, simple as this.
Jones: If a member comes to you and says I have lost both my jobs, I need my money back, you would say?
McGuire: Tony, you’ve got to listen to me mate. We're in it together. We look after our members, they’re part of our family. If you came to me and said I need a loan at the moment, do you think I would help you … of course I would. What we don’t want to do is have a run on clubs because the membership is keeping us alive at the moment. We’ve got no visibility. I came in tonight I saw a kid, seven years of age, walking along in his Essendon jumper. I looked at him and I thought he is probably a generational supporter. He has so much to look forward to. If you think footy is important, please stick with us.
Jones: I know …
McGuire: You’re not listening at the moment, Tony. You’re trying to get a headline.
Jones: I’m not trying to get a headline, I’m trying to get an answer.
McGuire: I’m giving you an answer, Tony,
Jones: If a member comes to you and says they want their money back, will you give their money back?
McGuire: Tony I just said to you. If you’ve got financial hardships, speak to your club we’re there to help you we always do. We do this year in, year out with people who have financial hardships. What I’m saying to you though Tony, is this is more than a transaction. This is people who love their club and it means more them. Tony, do you want to hear what the answer is or do you want to keep asking questions.
Jones: We are running out of time. But you can love your club without actually putting your hand in your pocket.
McGuire: Tony if we don’t have enough people putting their hand their pocket, there will be no club it’s as simple as that.
Jones: Unfortunately there’s a lot of empty pockets, Ed.
McGuire: And they’ll be looked after, Tony. Do not make this into people taking money out of peoples pockets and don’t wind me up with a smarta** last line ok. This is desperate stakes and don’t try make a headline or make a fool out of me. When people need help they will get it.
Jones: Righto Eddie, thank you for joining us.
McGuire continues argument with Caroline Wilson
McGuire then took up the argument with Caroline Wilson on Footy Classified.
Wilson put it to McGuire that he had avoided Jones’ question about whether or not fans could get a refund, which didn’t go down all too well:
Wilson: He asked it three times and you never said, ‘Yes, of course we will give the money back’.
McGuire: If I said ring tomorrow and we’ll give all your money back then that’s fine and we won’t have to worry about having a show next week because there’ll be no football. It’s a bit like the virus at the moment, we’re trying to spread it there. We’re trying to say to people who don’t need to take their money to not.
McGuire: If I could say to you tonight, ‘We will give all the membership back because we are right’.
Wison: He didn't say that, he said if someone rang up you would give it back, and you were banging on about the susso workers.
McGuire: I was putting it in the context. The Collingwood Football Club was built out of the great depression.
Wilson: I can understand his frustration, you weren't answering the question. And there are media people who are getting sick of being picked on by the way. He’s got a point.
McGuire: Oh boo hoo. Give us a spell Caro.
Wilson: It’s irresponsible to say that. There are a lot of people who are genuinely hurting who need their membership money back.
McGuire: You’re not going to get the last line that was nicely scripted ahead of time to make us look bad. We’re all in it together, everybody is working hard. We want our members and our supporters to get through this as much as we possibly can.
"You're not going to get the last line in there to make us look bad."— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) April 1, 2020
A fired up Eddie McGuire opens up about his earlier blow up with Tony Jones.#9FootyClassified | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/ODO1Tkc3LV