Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has denied the 17 other clubs ganged up on Essendon, but said they had to take a stand to protect the multi-million dollar industry resuscitated by the AFL Commission.
McGuire also welcomed Essendon chairman Paul Little's forecast of a swift resolution to the drugs saga.
McGuire, speaking soon after his Essendon counterpart Little penned an open letter to Bombers members acknowledging failures of governance and people management, described the other clubs' unanimous backing for the AFL's handling of the scandal as a decision made ''for the greater good''.
''The great thing to come out of that meeting [of club presidents on Thursday] was the solidarity of the clubs and the AFL not against Essendon … What we were all trying to do was make sure that the fabric that keeps this competition remains strong,'' McGuire said in his president's address before the Magpies' match against West Coast on Friday night.
''There was no going after Essendon. We underlined our support for the concept of the AFL Commission, for the people who are in place at the moment, and also appealed to the Bombers that if they can sort this out, to do so within the confines of the AFL and its judiciary.''
McGuire said the Bombers had the right to defend themselves but to do so in the courts would undermine the AFL Commission and endanger the lifeblood of the national competition.
''In 1985, the presidents of the 11 Victorian clubs and Sydney gave up their licensing and just about all their powers for the greater good of the game because the game was broke … That year, $800,000 the ABC under sufferance paid to broadcast the VFL for the entire season,'' McGuire said, referring to AFL's latest, five-year $1.25billion media rights deal. As much as it kills us sometimes, especially the presidents of the larger clubs who have to fork out a fair bit, we have to play somebody and it's important that this competition and what football means in this country is held together.
''All the clubs respected that Essendon have the right to defend themselves but also if they can do that within the auspices of the AFL, that will be the best situation, then let the cards fall as they may.
''We are heartened to hear tonight that Paul Little has sent out an open letter to his constituents that they are hopeful of a resolution sooner rather than later.''