A number of high-profile AFL figures have slammed Mark McGowan after the Western Australia Premier said Victorian clubs were too ‘pampered’ to relocate for the resumption of the coronavirus-affected season.
But WA Premier McGowan is standing firm on a refusal to grant exemptions for the clubs to fly in and out of the state for games, forcing the teams to temporarily shift their operations.
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While McGowan is not willing to grant border exemptions, he instead continues to push the case for some of Victoria's 10 clubs to relocate to a quarantine hub in WA.
“The two-week quarantine arrangement needs to stay in place, the integrity of the state borders needs to stay,” McGowan said.
“It appears to me Victorian clubs aren't willing to leave their comfort zone and come over here to hub in Western Australia, yet they expect our teams to go over there.
“It's a little bit rich and it seems to me they're a little bit pampered and they should be prepared to do the hard yards and go somewhere else.”
AFL world fumes over Mark McGowan comments
But McGowan’s comments have gone down like a lead balloon in Victoria, with a number of footy greats incensed by his sledge.
Speaking on 3AW radio on Friday, Richmond great Matthew Richardson slammed McGowan’s comments as “just a nonsense”.
“I was staggered with the West Australian Premier. That just didn’t make sense to me what he was talking about,” Richardson told Sportsday.
“This whole state versus state thing, even last week we said it was getting tired – it’s even more tired now.
“Seriously, we just want to get our great game going again. We know the financial difficulties that we’re all facing, particularly the football industry trying to get started again.
“I mean, the hub in WA would’ve been the most expensive option and if a hub was ever going to happen, you would’ve thought Victoria would’ve been the best option, just because there’s less teams to get to a certain state in a culmination and get them going.”
Former Hawthorn and Melbourne star Jordan Lewis described McGowan’s comments as “childish”, while Eddie McGuire said it was a “cheap shot”.
“Mate, you’ve got to make an announcement before we can actually have a response to it,” McGuire told Triple M.
“We’ve been saying for over eight weeks about the idea of, I think I used the example of Collingwood and St Kilda going over to Perth: If they didn’t have a two-week (quarantine) period when you go in there … we’d be over with our ears pinned back.
“So we’re getting to some sort of sense now, as long as we don’t get the politicians trying to just go silly and try and go all populist. Everyone’s working together on this type of stuff.”
And even South Australians are fuming, with Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes calling McGowan’s comments “stupid”.
“What a stupid comment,” Kornes tweeted.
“Why would any team want to play in WA or SA when they have to lock themselves in a hotel room for 14 days upon entry?”
What a stupid comment. Why would any team want to play in WA or SA when they have to lock themselves in a hotel room for 14 days upon entry? https://t.co/NUpDqkZ3lo
— Kane Cornes (@kanecornes) May 14, 2020
Mark McGowan doubles down on comments
But the brutal feedback hasn’t deterred McGowan, who doubled down on his comments later on Friday.
“Did I call them pampered? I obviously wasn't strong enough. What I meant was over-indulged and spoilt," McGowan said.
"Clearly the Victorian teams haven't covered themselves in glory here.
“At least some of them could've made the effort to come and hub in WA.
“That was the opportunity, that's what the the AFL wrote to us to suggest, subject to the quarantine requirements, but they decided not to accept that and that's a sad development, but we move on.”