Collingwood savaged over training move after Justin Leppitsch spotted in brazen act

The Magpies have made a number of unwanted headlines in the AFL world in recent days.

Collingwood coach Justin Leppitsch, pictured here at a Carlton training session.
Collingwood have been accused of trying to cover up their netball past, while Justin Leppitsch was spotted at a Carlton training session. Image: Collingwood/Channel 7

Collingwood have made unwanted headlines on a number of fronts in recent days, with assistant coach Justin Leppitsch spotted at a Carlton training session, and a video from the club's 'new' facilities copping backlash. The Blues opened their doors to fans for an open training session on Friday, so there was nothing untoward in what Leppitsch was doing.

But the Collingwood assistant coach's presence at a rival club's session certainly raised a few eyebrows. Leppitsch was instrumental in helping coach Craig McRae end the Magpies' 13-year premiership drought last season when they beat the Lions by four points in the grand final.

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His attendance at Carlton's training session probably wouldn't have sat well with Blues hierarchy considering they lost in the prelim. The Blues will have high hopes in 2024 after making the finals for the first time in 10 years last season, before their fairytale run was ended by Brisbane.

Collingwood savaged for covering up mirky netball past

But the Leppitsch situation hasn't sparked nearly as much backlash as a video posted by the club on Saturday touting the Magpies' 'upgraded' indoor training facilities. Collingwood posted a video on X (formerly Twitter) showing Jeremy Howe introducing the facilities before fans were taken on a tour during some training drills.

But social media users were quick to notice that the 'new-look' indoor facility is simply a revamped version of the site where the Collingwood netball team used to train. The Magpies netball program was shut down last year and they exited the Super Netball comp, with club bosses pointing to a $1 million per year loss. The Collingwood organisation as a whole made a $7.56 million profit in the financial year ending October 31, 2023.

A recent renovation of the training facilities was partly funded by a $15 million infrastructure grant from the federal government, which was awarded in order to provide improved facilities for women’s sporting teams. Collingwood's AFLW side are free to use the facilities, but many felt it was a bad look for the men's AFL team to be using them now.

Collingwood netball players, pictured here at a training session.
Collingwood netball players at a training session at the club's facilities. Image: Getty

The netball court has been covered by artificial turf, with a mini-AFL field painted on top. In the video posted on Saturday, netball and basketball hoops can still be seen, but all the netball signage has either been removed or covered up.

The dead giveaway that the netball facilities have been revamped are the black tarps that are draped over the seats in the stands in the background. The stands were built for the Melbourne Olympics in 1956, when the facility hosted swimming events at the Games. They are still in place because they're heritage listed, which partially explains why they are covered when not in use.

Sport Management academic Hunter Fujak commented on the video on Saturday: “Congratulations on using women’s sport to siphon taxpayer money into one of the wealthiest men’s football operations in Australia.” To make matters worse, the Collingwood account appeared to hide another comment about the netball team so users couldn't see it.

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