Port Adelaide president and Sunrise host David Koch has teed off on rumours circulating around the AFL's upcoming TV broadcast negotiations.
The AFL's current broadcasting arrangement between Channel 7, Fox Footy and Kayo doesn't expire until the end of the 2024 season, but there have already been rumblings a deal potentially worth billions is in the works.
Broadcasting rights have been split between Channel 7 and Fox for years, however the prospect of streaming services becoming a part of the deal has left Koch seeing red.
Koch hasn't been alone in his vocal criticism, which came after a report in The Australian which suggested discussions had been held about taking Adelaide and Perth hosted games off free-to-air TV.
Those games would hypothetically be broadcast exclusively by Fox Footy.
WA premier Mark McGowan was also unimpressed with the rumours, however his comments were a little more circumspect than Koch's.
The Port Adelaide boss said any moves to show matches on a delay or exclusively via certain streaming services would be a 'disaster' and that footy should always have a home on free-to-air.
“Nothing annoys Port Adelaide fans more than watching a game on delay, let alone not being able to access it on free-to-air in the first place,” Koch said on Sunrise on Tuesday.
“It is something that our members get really p***ed off about.
“Apparently there is a rumour under the new broadcast rights where Foxtel are saying ‘Na, na, we’re not going to allow those games to be shown live in those local markets’.”
McGowan said it would be a 'sad day' for WA footy fans if such a move was implemented by the AFL.
Koch's comments come after it was revealed the AFL was unhappy with Channel 7's promotion of the league, after coming to a new broadcast arrangement during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
AFL broadcast rumour riles fans in Perth, Adelaide
McGowan, in a post to Facebook in response to the Australian's report, said the game relied on being accessible to all.
“Free-to-air TV coverage of our local footy teams goes a long way to growing the game from the junior grassroots level, to country footy and all the way to professional level,” McGowan said.
“It would be a sad day for Australia if people lost the opportunity to watch the football for free.
“I’d strongly urge the AFL to stick with free-to-air viewing of football.”
Meanwhile, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says staying COVID-safe is just another area where clubs must be disciplined if they want to win a premiership.
The league is insistent it will continue to push through surging case numbers and won't postpone even finals should a team be wiped out with a number of absences through health and safety protocols.
"It feels there's another surge going on now and we all know the steps we can do to protect ourselves, and I know the clubs know that and the players know that," he told the Seven Network.
"It's individual responsibility ... the players need to live their lives but we all know this is a discipline and resilience competition.
"The most disciplined clubs are going to have the most players available and I think everyone understands that and I know the players do."
Brisbane lost five players for their round 17 clash with Essendon and their club was locked down the following week, highlighting the impact the virus could have on teams potentially in finals.
Geelong coach Chris Scott admitted COVID-19 avoidance was "towards the front of the queue" of his club's thinking.
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