Geelong president Colin Carter has been ridiculed as a “Hall of Fame hypocrite” and “unstatesmanlike” for accusing the wealthy clubs of hijacking the equalisation debate and shifting the burden of cost onto the middle-class clubs.
Collingwood and Hawthorn presidents Eddie McGuire and Andrew Newbold both took umbrage at Carter’s stinging attack on the wealthy clubs after he said the Cats had been “screwed” by the rich clubs – Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast – who bullied the AFL into a sweetheart deal for the rich that unfairly punished the middle-class clubs.
McGuire said Carter, as a former AFL commissioner who had authored a paper on equalisation, was “becoming a Hall of Fame hypocrite” for whining about being asked to help fund equalisation.
“He used to lecture every club about the independence of the AFL, yet as soon as he gets back to club land he is singing and dancing and screaming and carrying on,” McGuire said.
“He wrote the manifesto on equalisation [when on the AFL Commission] and as soon as he has to put his hand in his pocket, suddenly he goes all cold on the idea … he [complains that he has] to put his hand in his pocket for $300,000 after everything the AFL competition has done to help Geelong … that is an insult to everybody else.”
McGuire said the Cats had been able to significantly improve their financial position because the AFL – and the state and federal governments – had significantly funded the reconstruction of Symonds Stadium, which had thus created “a revenue stream that will go on forever”.
“The question might be better asked why are they [Geelong] are only in the middle class, not in the top class as it is,” McGuire said on Triple M.
Under the new equalisation measures in which clubs will be taxed on profit, Geelong will be hit with a $300,000 tax bill. But a cap of $500,000 on the maximum amount of tax a club has to pay on its profit means the richer clubs that achieve significantly higher profits will be proportionally contributing a far lower amount.
Newbold said the criticism from Carter and the language used was “unstatesmanlike” and inappropriate, and his comments about the equalisation simplistic and unfair.
“It’s the first year of this. We don’t even know what the profits will be in 2014 and 2015. For him to come out and whinge at the beginning of year one is unstatesmanlike. You can’t go from no tax at all to uncapped tax,” Newbold said.
“This is a completely changed landscape. It is a seismic shift; we have introduced a tax for the first time on clubs and I think it would have been unfair to have gone from nothing to completely uncapped.
“Colin must have been out of the room in Adelaide when we discussed this in detail over more than three hours. The only thing that changed between the meeting in Adelaide and the meeting two weeks ago is that in the second meeting we got the figures and suddenly Colin is up in arms about it. He never said anything in Adelaide.”
Newbold said no club would be happy with the equalisation measures – the poorer clubs felt it was not generous enough, the richer clubs that it punished their success and the middle class clubs that the burden fell unfairly on them.
“At some point you have to put aside your own selfish point of view and look at the code as a whole. I thought that might have been something Colin understood from his time on the commission.
“I also thought his comments were fairly disrespectful to Brendon Gale who was on the equalisation committee and was one of the representatives of the middle-class clubs that Colin talks about being screwed.
“Brendon was on the committee on a the trip to the US. I think Colin has been disrespectful of Brendon’s role in this.”
He also challenged the idea that Collingwood and Hawthorn had hijacked the debate from being about compensating poorer clubs and into taxing clubs.
“Hawthorn and Collingwood were the last people advocating taxation. It was not hijacked by us, we never wanted taxation.
“We were talking about stadia arrangements, membership numbers. Who is he saying hijacked the agenda and put taxation on the table? It wasn’t us, why would we advocate for that?”
McGuire also challenged Carter and other club presidents such as Giants chairman Tony Shepherd – who until recently was the president of the Business Council of Australia and is the head of Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit. As businessmen they operated as fierce capitalists yet pleaded a socialist philosophy when it suited them as club presidents arguing for a bigger hand out from the AFL, he said.