New Collingwood CEO Craig Kelly and president Jeff Browne have been getting up to speed with where the agreement sits, determined to ensure a modernised agreement works for the club and have moved to inform Legends and Club 5 members that the deal expires at the end of this year.
Kelly told The Age the Magpies were prepared to engage in productive talks over the issue to obtain an agreement that works for their members but say the contribution they made to the economic viability of the stadium as a result of them committing to the MCG when leaving Victoria Park should not be forgotten by clubs critical of the agreement.
“Collingwood moved from Victoria Park to the MCG and the deal Eddie McGuire and the board devised was one to support the redevelopment and the long-standing growth of the MCG. We were the founding tenant club and we brought all our members across,” Kelly said.
“We wanted our people to have their home and their seats, and it was consistent for them and they felt like they were still at Vic Park all those years, because we helped drive the economics of that stadium whereas clubs such as Carlton and Essendon went to what is now Marvel Stadium.
“We are now in negotiations and working through with the MCC and, ultimately, we will work with the other clubs and the AFL to get an outcome that works importantly for our members but especially with Richmond and the issues they have got with our arrangement.”
When contacted by The Age, MCC CEO Stuart Fox confirmed mature discussions were happening between the MCC and relevant clubs, but he could not comment further due to his commercial in confidence obligations.
Other sources said that Richmond, with their huge membership base and growing attendances in the past 10 years, are the most affected by the current deal and have made their views clear to the MCG over a long period of time however the other tenant clubs also support the push to amend the agreement.
Tigers CEO Brendon Gale said he understood why the Magpies did the deal, but he had been open and transparent with Collingwood that he would keep pressure on the MCC to update the agreement to ensure their members were treated fairly.
“We have got thousands of reserved seat members that have to get up and move and vacate their reserved seats when we play a home game against Collingwood,” Gale said.
“There is the inconvenience which impacts their match day experience and the value of that membership but there is also a financial aspect to it as well.
“We are a club that has been at the MCG since 1965 and have been pulling millions of supporters through the gates. We have a huge connection with this ground and in the interests of fairness we would like this addressed as it is no longer acceptable.”
Collingwood’s away game entitlements sees them also retain the same dressing rooms at the MCG regardless of whether they are the home or away team, which is different to what happens when other tenant clubs play each other.
Many of the reserved seat packages Collingwood sells to members in the Ponsford Stand ensure guaranteed seats at the grand final if the Magpies make the decider.
It means that despite some games being sold out there are empty seats available at Collingwood away games in the Ponsford Stand that other tenant clubs believe would be filled if the agreement was amended.
Other sources suggested clubs such as Hawthorn or Melbourne might have benefited at times from Collingwood having the away entitlements when they had a home game against the Magpies at the MCG.
Clubs are increasingly aware of the vital importance of stadium deals to their bottom line with the AFL also keen that club growth is not restricted by agreements that don’t reflect the competition’s changed circumstances.
Collingwood will play a Friday night home game against Richmond at the MCG in round three.
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