AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has confirmed that club members will be refunded if they need to be but implored those who could afford to continue paying for their membership to do so, to support their club.
- McLachlan said clubs were in a “battle to get through” the pandemic
- The AFL boss said fans should keep their club memberships if they could afford to
- Collingwood president Eddie McGuire last night refused to confirm whether refunds would be offered
His comments on ABC Radio Melbourne Breakfast with Sammy J come after a heated exchange between Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and his colleague Tony Jones on Channel Nine last night.
McGuire refused to confirm whether Collingwood members would be refunded by the club if they faced financial hardship.
He said that they could call the club but stopped short of saying membership refunds were available.
When asked today whether members could get refunds, McLachlan said “of course”.
“If they need it, they can, but yes clearly we’d love them to stay because our industry is in a battle and our clubs are in a battle to get through and the membership is their lifeblood,” he said.
“But all I’d say is I understand the pain out there and people need to make their own decisions and clearly if they want it, they can. But I know our members understand how big their contribution of membership is to their clubs.”
The AFL season is suspended until May 31, but there is no guarantee that play will resume after that.
When pressed by Jones, McGuire responded with an accusation that Jones was “trying to get a headline” to which Jones responded that he was “trying to get an answer”.
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McLachlan said he understood the plight of clubs who had already been forced to cut approximately 80 per cent of their staff.
“Those for whom the footy club is almost part of their family, if they’re able to maintain their membership and keep going, it will go a long way to getting their clubs through this and that’s Ed’s point. I think it is important and you’ve got to marry the two priorities up,” McLachlan said.
“Clearly the footy clubs rely on club membership and for those who have been making a contribution because of that connection and that loyalty for such a long time, if they’re able to keep their membership it goes a long way to keeping the club sustainable.”