Outgoing AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says he is surprised by Collingwood chief executive Craig Kelly “pointing the finger” at the league over Magpies supporters’ grand final ticket woes.
McLachlan said Collingwood opted to allocate its tickets to members via a ballot rather than the on-sale system more frequently used by grand finalists.
It came as 37 Collingwood “priority one” members missed out on a grand final ticket on Monday that had been guaranteed in their membership package.
Other priority one ticketholders were allocated standing room seats, with some complaining of elderly relatives being seated high up on level 4, which Kelly called “horrible”.
In a club-issued statement on Monday, Kelly called on the AFL to increase competing club allocations from 17,000 members to 20,000 and told Ticketek to “improve their system”.
“We call on Ticketek to improve their system so that the moment funds are taken out of bank accounts, tickets are released to members immediately,” Kelly said.
“We know grand finals are a case of high demand and limited availability, which is why we call on the AFL to increase competing club allocations from 17,000 to at least 20,000 tickets.
“We want to assure all members that we are actively engaging with the AFL, MCC, Ticketek, and other stakeholders to push for changes and improve this system and access for our most dedicated members.”
McLachlan, who said the 37 members had now all received grand final tickets, was surprised by Kelly’s comments.
“Did Craig point the finger at the AFL? I can’t imagine Craig doing that. I think you’re all aware I’m very good friends with Craig, and if he’s pointing the finger at the AFL, I’d remind everyone that Collingwood chose to go down the ballot route,” he said on Wednesday.
“I can’t imagine Craig Kelly doing that … in the end, Collingwood, the AFL and everyone is just trying to get the best outcome for their supporters.
“There was an issue with that process, but whatever the process that was decided, it was with the best of intentions … the ballot was a decision of the Collingwood Football Club, so if they want to change that process and go back to the on-sale (method), that’s a decision for them.”
McLachlan said whether the number of corporate tickets allocated at the grand final should be decreased was a “fair debate” but insisted the split between competing clubs and others was in the best interests of the game.
“It’s a discussion that’s ongoing – there are 100,000 football supporters here on the weekend and there’s probably three or four hundred thousand people who want to go,” he said.
“I think it’s a fair debate, but broadly I can’t see that changing because it’s the way the economics works to keep the whole thing affordable.”