Playing God: Eddie and Collingwood want complete control

Sean Lee Columnist

By Sean Lee, Sean Lee is a Roar Expert

 , , ,

35 Have your say

    Dane goes to work everyday. His work is physically demanding and sometimes dangerous. The risk of injury is high.

    Longevity in his line of work is relatively short. Survive in his work place for five years and you have done well. Survive for ten years and you start to become an exception. Time off is rare.

    After work, Dane likes to relax, go out with mates, maybe have a few beers. Nothing too extreme. He is sometimes seen out after dark, but he still performs to his usual high standard when at work.

    In fact he is integral to the successful operation of his workplace. He has even received awards acknowledging the quality of his work.

    But things start to go wrong for Dane. Rumours begin to circulate about his after work activities. Apparently his behaviour is unbecoming for someone in his position.

    There is talk of drug taking. There is talk of a less than committed attitude to his place of work. His reputation is slighted. Some would even call it slander.

    So Dane decides to clear his name. He talks to a prominent member of his community, someone who will be able to ensure his message gets out. He wants the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that have begun to build up around him. In short he wants to restore his standing and ensure family and friends (and those at his work place) that he hasn’t been doing anything untoward.

    It is a commendable approach and one that his work place should support. Right?

    Of course it should, unless the Dane we are talking about is Dane Swan and the employer is the Collingwood Football Club. Then things turn nasty.

    Collingwood’s attitude to Swan’s interview on The Footy Show last Thursday night is hard to fathom. Swan did not speak poorly of the footy club. He did not give away any club secrets or criticise the management or playing group. The interview predominately dealt with personal issues.

    Surely he is allowed to speak freely about his life and defend himself against scurrilous rumours and innuendo?

    To make the matter even more laughable, it was not the content of the interview that Collingwood objected to, it was the fact that permission to do the interview in the first place was not sought by Swan or his manager, Liam Pickering.

    This petty approach reeks of Collingwood and its president Eddie McGuire trying to play God and of the club being arrogant enough to think that they can control all aspects of a player’s life, whether it relates to the club or not.

    They are all hot under the collar about protocol not being followed. Swan wants to distance himself from rumours of drug taking and all Collingwood are worried about is protocol!

    Perhaps if they had been more pro-active when these rumours first came about, the situation may not have escalated into the debacle that it has become.

    The war of words that followed between Swan’s manager Liam Pickering and the Collingwood hierarchy is laughable.

    Mcguire, CEO Gary Pert and coach Nathan Buckley all chimed in with the company line. Swan and Pickering knew the rules and they broke them. The interview needed club approval, they went ahead without it, and now they will be punished.

    Punished for trying to set the record straight on his off field activities. What a joke.

    It is time for McGuire and the Collingwood power brokers to take a step back and try and view the situation with some objectiveness.

    What crime has Swan really committed? None. Was their precious football club harmed? Not at all.

    Did anyone die? No. He received payment for the interview, sure, but so what?

    Any fallout from the interview has been caused by the club itself, not Swan. It is the stubborn, dictatorial stance taken by the club that has seen this blow out into a discussion piece that was barely worthy of a mention in the first place.

    Had they supported Swan and not got all uppity about precocious protocols, there would have been no issue.

    The interview would have aired on Thursday night, been reported in the papers the next morning, and have been quickly forgotten as the next round of the pre-season competition got under way.

    The war of words between the two parties wouldn’t have eventuated and the footy club wouldn’t have come away looking the control freak that it now does. In this case they have damaged their own brand, while fuelling further rumours about Swan’s future at the club.

    Footballers are paid good money to represent their clubs at the highest level. There is an expectation that players will work hard on the field and present themselves favourably off it. This is a fair expectation.

    What isn’t fair though is a football club trying to control a player’s life from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep. Players should be allowed to talk freely of their lives, even their football clubs, without the risk of sanction.

    When it is all said and done, football at the elite level is a job. It provides employment for several hundred men each year and for the best of them it pays very well.

    Most of us in the workforce can talk freely about our jobs. We most definitely can talk freely about our own lives. What makes a football club think that it is any different to any other employer? What right do they have to gag players?

    It is football, for crying out loud, not a matter of national security.

    Had Swan come out and criticised the club, then that would have shown a lack of professionalism, but he didn’t. He simply addressed some issues that had been simmering in the background for way too long.

    He spoke well, giving us an insight into what makes him tick and how he thinks.

    He was totally professional in his approach and probably garnered a few extra fans because of it. And yet he was punished.

    It is time that football clubs, and the Collingwood Football Club in particular, started treating their players like adults.

    Dane Swan has been a magnificent servant of the club and deserves to be treated with respect.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (35)

    • March 14th 2013 @ 9:18am
      Phelpsy said | March 14th 2013 @ 9:18am | ! Report

      I guess if your employment has a high media profile and part of the conditions set out under the agreement to employment is that any media needs to have club approval, then you pay the consequences for not following that rule. If that same rule applies to all in your workplace then how do you not fine him for breaking it? Otherwise what is the point of having the rule ?

      • March 14th 2013 @ 10:47am
        Kev said | March 14th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        That would be true if McGuire didn’t apply that rule selectively. One thing I cannot stand is that a self serving, holier art thou, egomaniacal hypocrite like McGuire will expect that media outlets approach Collingwood for approval before interviewing a player and jump up and down like a petulant child when it isn’t followed as shown by this Dane Swan situation, while conveniently forgetting that he has done exactly the same thing in the past with Liam Jurrah and brushed criticism off as if it was uncalled for.

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 1:41pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Phelpsy, I guess I’m of the view that the rule shouldn’t be there in the first place. As I said, it’s football, not a matter of national security. Yes sure, you’ll get some players that shoot off at the mouth, but those players probably would have anyway. The vast majority would be ok.

    • Roar Guru

      March 14th 2013 @ 10:07am
      TomC said | March 14th 2013 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      Well, normally I’ll relish an opportunity to put the boot into Collingwood, but in this case I think they’re entitled to insist that their players follow official processes for dealing with the media.

      I think Sean goes way over the top in this article.

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 1:45pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

        Maybe I do go over the top, but it is the “official process” in this case that I don’t like.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2013 @ 10:16pm
          Richard said | March 14th 2013 @ 10:16pm | ! Report

          You are clearly an anarchist.

    • Roar Guru

      March 14th 2013 @ 11:16am
      Andy_Roo said | March 14th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      Dane Swan may well be sensible enough, experienced enough and old enough to hold his own with an interviewer and not make any rash comments. But a 19 year old player might say the wrong thing or go too far.
      It is entierely sensible for a club to have some sort of protocol in place for its protection and for everyon else’s protection. And this protocol should be applied to everyone and applied equally.
      Swan didn’t follow the correct protocol an should be punished accordingly. The $5000 fine may seem a bit harsh, but everyone will lean the lesson.

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 1:53pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 1:53pm | ! Report

        I think we often sell our kids short. Why not give them a chance to grow up? How long do we have to try and protect them? Until they are 20? 21? 22? Until they have played 100 games? Besides, they all get media training these days. This is quite evident when they speak after being drafted. They all basically say they same thing!

        And let’s face it. The rule is there not to protect the player, but to protect the club on the off chance the player says something stupid . Protecting the ‘brand’ is everything.

    • March 14th 2013 @ 12:06pm
      Seano said | March 14th 2013 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

      I hate collingwood but I am a fan of Dane Swan, I have a feeling that he may end up Capt of Port Melbourne after this contract is up, he loves playing footy but hates all the meetings ect, his dad was a legend at port and willy but with willy being aligned with the dogs and port stand alone and near where he lives it could be a glamorous combo of Ayres and Swan at the borough!!

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 2:20pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        That’d be great for Port Melb! I know you’re only joking, but this is the other result of Collingwood’s handling of the situation. All they have done now is just fuel rumours of Swan’s immediate playing future.

        All clubs are guilty of this, but I think they need to have a little bit more faith in their players and allow them a little more freedom. Sure some players will step out of line, but they probably would have anyway! Think Akermanis and Fevola. No amount of club rules could keep those two under wraps!

        Our players are human, they are not robots. Let them develop their public personas!

    • March 14th 2013 @ 12:22pm
      Alan said | March 14th 2013 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      I am now retired but in every organisation I worked for there were rules about media contact – I could have been dismissed If I broke those rules – I think you are presenting a very biased argument. Also while Eddie is a bit over the top sometimes (and I think anyone passionate about their own club is entitiled to be), your “self serving, holier art thou, egomaniacal hypocrite” seems way over the top – did he steal your teddy bear when you were kids?

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 1:58pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        Hi Alan. The ‘self serving, holier art thou, egomaniacal hypocrite’ quote isn’t mine. It came from Kev just up the page a bit. I just said Eddie was trying to play God and that his attitude and that of the club was a bit arrogant. I may have also mentioned something about control freaks, but I didn’t say all that other stuff 🙂

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 2:07pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        Further to your comment Alan, my work place also has rules about dealing with the media, however we deal with the emergency services and handle some pretty sensitive information. I also write and have been interviewed regarding my writing. I’ve also been interviewed by local media after competing in sports events. My work place doesn’t ( and shouldn’t) have any control over that. In fact, more often than not it would be promoted in my work place’s newsletter.

        All I’m saying in the article is to what level is it appropriate for a workplace, in this case a football club, to control what someone does or says outside of the work environment. Especially when it deals with personal issues and doesn’t reflect badly on the club at all?

        • March 14th 2013 @ 3:23pm
          Alan said | March 14th 2013 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

          Hello Sean
          Re your last comment “when it deals with personal issues and doesn’t reflect badly on the club at all”, I think it does reflect on the club becasue the media (present company probably excepted) will extract the last ounce of value out of a story. The clubs have an image to maintain which translates into revenue over the long term and are compelled to protect that image – hence the rules which exist because of bad experiences in the past. Imagine the chaos that would exist for each club if they didn’t control all players on the same basis.
          Unfortunately, these clubs are no longer the local social entities, they are now big businesses – a fact that I lament every time I see the external manipulation of a once great game to suit advertisers.

      • March 14th 2013 @ 3:29pm
        Kev said | March 14th 2013 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        It did come from me and I do believe it’s justified. McGuire doesn’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to crying about the media interviewing Collingwood’s players without their permission because in the past, he has clearly demonstrated that he’s happy to ignore that very rule he so arrogantly defends when it suits him and the Liam Jurrah interview is a classic example. The only difference here is that Swan plays for Collingwood and Jurrah doesn’t. I said at the time of the Jurrah interview, that if someone else had pulled the same stunt that McGuire did and interviewed a Collingwood player without their permission, that he would be the first to jump up and down about it and have a sook about the lack of adherence to protocol and this does nothing but confirm it. What’s that saying? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. McGuire could learn plenty from that.

        • Roar Guru

          March 14th 2013 @ 10:24pm
          Richard said | March 14th 2013 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

          Actually I agree that Eddie showed disrespect for Melbourne in that case and, although I hate to say it, I don’t think that reflected well on him at all. Much as I love Eddie as President of CFC, I must say I don’t like his show on Foxtel. I’ve watched it a couple of times, but never enjoyed it. For that matter, I can no longer watch the Footy Show either and once upon a time it was a favourite of mine. I like “Open Mike” and I like to watch “Footy Classified”. I like the way Gary Lyon and Mathew Lloyd go about their stuff. Eddie could learn from them when it comes to being a footy commentator.

    • March 14th 2013 @ 12:43pm
      Pollock said | March 14th 2013 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

      It would be quite ironic if Eddie can’t get any players to interview for his show because their clubs won’t let them.

      • Columnist

        March 14th 2013 @ 2:09pm
        Sean Lee said | March 14th 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

        It would be ironic Pollock, but it would also further emphasise my point. It would be ridiculous!

    , , ,