Veteran AFL writer and broadcaster Mark Robinson has been mocked by fans over a series of baffling questions posed to CEO Gillon McLachlan on Monday night’s edition of AFL 360.
Robinson was questioning McLachlan after the AFL’s announcement of a shortened season, due to the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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The 2020 season will consist of 17 rounds, reduced from 23, with games to be played without fans in attendance.
McLachlan was visibly puzzled by Robinson’s line of questioning, but particularly when the veteran journalist asked him if he considered his own job to be at risk as a result of his response to the crisis.
“Would you have to re-think your future at the AFL, bearing in mind that the consequences of this coronavirus could be felt for many a year?” Robinson asked McLachlan.
A confused McLachlan took a moment to process the question before answering it.
“I don’t know quite what the question is, but in terms of everyone sharing the financial pain, absolutely.”
The grilling continued however, with Robinson again pressing McLachlan, inexplicably, on his own job security within the AFL.
“The second question is, does this coronavirus have any impact on your future with the AFL?” Robinson asked.
Again, the CEO required a moment to gather himself before answering.
“In what sense Robbo, I mean my job right now is to get us all through.”
Robinson wasn’t done yet, asking McLachlan “how long will that take?” - a question better suited for government or health officials rather than the CEO of the AFL.
Fittingly, McLachlan pointed Robinson in that direction.
“I don’t know, if I knew that I should probably be advising Canberra, not the other way around.”
Viewers were quick to take to social media to roast the odd line of questioning.
How can Mark Robinson seriously ask Gill McLachlan if the financial losses due to the coronavirus Crisis will cost him his job... #afl360— Felix von Hofe (@FelixHofe) March 16, 2020
Why is Mark Robinson asking the AFL CEO these stupid questions. Obviously out of his depth dealing with these issues #afl360— Joel Wallace (@JWallaceTas) March 16, 2020
How does Mark Robinson still have a job? Almost feel sorry for Whately having to sit next to him 5 nights a week. #AFL360— Michael Nicholls (@micknicholls) March 16, 2020
AFL fixture altered to combat COVID-19
All 18 teams will play each other once in the coronavirus-affected program, with the first four rounds of games to run as scheduled before a new draw is created for the rest of the competition.
The finals series could be pushed back into October, or even November, in order to complete the season.
But one roadblock for the AFL is that the men's Twenty20 World Cup cricket tournament is due to start at major grounds across Australia on October 18.
"If it's done by the end of September, fabulous - but if we need more time we'll do that," McLachlan told reporters.
"We've got 40 weeks to get a 17-week season away until the end of 2020 ... and we'll use every one of those weekends.
"We have flexibility now with a 17-round season that buys more time."
McLachlan said if one player tested positive for COVID-19 then the AFL will shut down the competition for at least 14 days, possibly longer.