Gillon McLachlan has weighed in on the debate about refunds for AFL members after Eddie McGuire and Tony Jones clashed on the subject on Wednesday night.
McGuire snapped at Jones during a live segment on Nine News, accusing the veteran reporter of trying to ‘create a headline’ and ‘make a fool’ of him.
AFL boss McLachlan has since given his take on the debate, saying clubs should give refunds to members facing financial troubles because of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘NASTIEST BOYS CLUB’: Caroline Wilson blasts AFL ‘bullies’
‘HAD TO GOOGLE HIM’: Kane Cornes fires back at Mark Geyer
On Thursday McLachlan said club members are entitled to ask for refunds but said they're the backbone of the league's 18 clubs.
“Of course, if they need it, they can (get refunds),” McLachlan told ABC radio.
“But, yes, we would love them to stay because our industry is in a battle and our clubs are in a battle to get through and the membership is their lifeblood.
“All I would say is I understand the pain going on out there and people need to make their own decisions and clearly if they want it (a refund), they can.
“But I know our members understand how big their contribution of membership is to their clubs."
The Western Bulldogs have already refunded some memberships.
But the Dogs’ chief executive Ameet Bains said the financial pain of clubs would worsen should there be a flood of refund requests from members.
“It would be a significant body blow for clubs and potentially fatal for a number of clubs as well,” Bains told SEN radio.
“The question of hardships is a different one and I think everyone is sympathetic about that ... we continue to work with anyone who is affected in that way.
“From our own experience, those individuals that have approached us with hardships or concerns, we've been happy to accommodate.”
Despite the AFL season being suspended until at least May 31, some clubs, including the Bulldogs, have reported new members signing on.
But all clubs were understood to have continued with membership payment plans
The NRL has given no firm position on refunds to members of its 16 clubs, beyond stating membership was integral to each of them.
Eddie McGuire explains why he blew up
McGuire, president of Collingwood Football Club, grew more and more incensed when Jones asked him if Magpies members would be able to get a refund.
And he finally snapped towards the end of the segment when Jones quipped: “Unfortunately there’s a lot of empty pockets.”
McGuire angrily spat back: “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.
“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.”
Discussing the heated clash on Thursday morning, McGuire said he got so angry because he thought he was about to be cut off by producers.
“It’s a talkback special when you get people in live or on a link where they cut the mic and then give you a smack on the way out the door,” McGuire told Triple M Radio.
“Like, ‘We’re going to take it out of empty pockets’. No we’re not.
“I thought they were trying to… and we’ve all seen it… and we’ve been in radio and TV too long, so that was the other reason I jumped.
“I thought he was quite right to ask the question. But I thought he was trying to get a yes-no answer to something that is a lot more complicated.”