Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has criticised the AFL's priority pick system, saying it was "flawed" and that it drew clubs to the "wrong place".

Speaking on Triple M radio, McGuire said that Melbourne, currently being investigated by the AFL for tanking,  would have been a "laughing stock" had it not lost games in order to get a priority pick.

''One thing we've got to be careful with on this is 20/20 hindsight morality. And that is that at the time, Melbourne, had they won five games, they would have been the laughing stock of the football world for giving up a priority pick," he said.

"Remember that everybody looked at Richmond as if they were the greatest shower of idiots, of all time, when Jordan McMahon kicked that goal to beat Melbourne, because they missed out, remember that?"

McGuire said that clubs shouldn't be blamed for attempting to gain a priority pick when the AFL had put the lure there in the first place.

"You can't blame the cat for swallowing the cream when you put the cream in front of it," he said.

"There were enough people who know the game well enough who said to the AFL, don't do this because it's just going to draw people to the wrong place."

McGuire said that playing younger players and resting older, injured players when a team has nothing left to play for is a legitimate coaching decision.

"In 1999, which was my first year as president of the Collingwood Football Club, Tony Shaw was celebrated for his generosity of spirit in playing the kids and blooding them for the next year, in the second half of the year, even though his career as coach was over," McGuire said.

"There were no priority picks back then, so it's a legitimate tactic when your season is over to put people in - no use flogging a bloke who needs a knee operation through August, through the cold wet months, when there's nothing to win."

Former Melbourne president Paul Gardner agreed that there was a problem with the priority pick system.

''Go down the bottom, don’t win a game and, by the way, you’ll get a priority pick. It’s a delicious irony, isn’t it?''

Gardner, replaced as president by Jim Stynes partway through 2008, said there was no suggestion of tanking when he was at the club.

But if it was found to have occurred in 2009, Gardner’s view is that it would be counterproductive to punish the entire club.

''I don’t see why the club should be fined for what individuals have committed,'' Gardner said.

''I can’t see the Tour de France throwing out the US Postal team.

''If people have chosen to go down a certain path, if people in a position of power have chosen that path, I would have thought they’re the ones that need to be brought to account.''

He said if a club copped a heavy sanction, it would only lead to them eventually needing more draft assistance.

with AAP