'Year of the fan': Eddie McGuire says he doesn't want fans to feel like they are being taken for granted. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has called for 2015 to be the ‘‘year of the fan’’ following the issues the AFL has had with crowds in Victoria.
‘‘Dedicate next year to the supporters,’’ McGuire said, adding that it should be labelled, ‘‘2015, year of the fan’’.
McGuire also called on the AFL to use the different time zones – and weather, depending on the month – to make Sunday evening games more workable for both television and Victorian fans attending games.
But the outspoken Collingwood president – who had been incensed about the poorly attended (40,000) Collingwood-Carlton game being held on a Sunday night deep in winter – predicted the AFL and new boss Gillon McLachlan would devise a better fixture for 2015.
‘‘We have to get to the situation where the highlight of people’s week is going to the footy, and it doesn’t feel like you’re going to the dentist or the tax audit. Get the timeslots right, make the experience great, give your team a chance and we’ll have a fantastic competition.’’
McGuire defended the Sunday twilight and evening timeslots – with the proviso that the balance was tilted towards interstate teams, or Victorian clubs in warmer months.
‘‘I think the twilight timeslot is absolutely a fantastic one for television. I just think it is so good.
‘‘What we need to do is get the balance right between Melbourne teams and interstate timeslots – preferably out of Perth or other marquee areas, whether that’s Gold Coast or GWS and some Melbourne games.
‘‘While there’s been experiments, there’s been some wins in these as well. We know it’s super popular, we’ve just got to get the venues. Let’s make the time zones all work for us and I think we can get a really good fixture that I’m very confident the AFL are about to produce.
‘‘The year of the fan. The one thing we don’t want ever is for people to think clubs or the AFL take them for granted.
‘‘I’ve got full confidence that Gillon McLachlan will deliver a fan-based fixture next year that will also maximise our commercial responsibilities and the television rights, which is just as important.
‘‘We’re all feeling a bit of pain from it ... now we move on with the remedies.’’
McGuire said Collingwood was working to devise ways in which its supporter and member money would go only to the club – by finding other means to contribute the equalisation dollars.
‘‘At Collingwood, we exist for our fans – it’s as simple as that. We’re working really hard at the moment to make sure that every single dollar that the fans put in to the club stays in the club, if that means we have to go and find other ways to match equalisation, we’ll kill ourselves doing it – [so] all Collingwood people realise that the money’s going in for the good of Collingwood.
‘‘It’s a big issue for us. They’re not mad on the idea of their membership money going to fund, you know, academies in NSW or Queensland or bail out other teams or all these other things ... we’re very conscious of that.
‘‘I’m really confident that the AFL and the clubs can work together to re-engage with the fans, and our supporter base.
‘‘It’s been a tough year, but let’s learn from it. Let’s not get silly about the Sunday night slots because they can work and will work and have worked, in some ways and have been no good in other ways. I fervently believe that those Sunday afternoon and Sunday night slots can work spectacularly with the right formula and I’m confident the AFL is working out what that formula is.’’