Collingwood’s seating deal with the MCC is ‘prejudicial’ to Richmond’s interests according to Brendon Gale and should be altered when it expires this year.
Richmond boss Brendon Gale has labelled a longstanding deal that gives Collingwood favourable seating arrangements at the MCG as “unfair” and “prejudicial” to the Tigers’ interests.
The Tigers’ chief executive is pushing for change and a mid-year resolution to ongoing negotiations between the Melbourne Cricket Club and the Magpies over a decades-long arrangement, which Gale said failed to reflect his club’s contribution to the “status of the MCG”.
Under the arrangement, which also impacts MCG tenants Melbourne and Hawthorn, the Magpies have rights to reserved seating for members in the Ponsford Stand for both home and away games.
The deal means the Tigers, Demons and Hawks must relocate their reserved seat members when they play home games against Collingwood at the MCG.
The MCC is in discussions with Collingwood over the agreement, but would not comment on the status of the talks, which were in commercial confidence. The Magpies’ current agreement with the MCC expires at the end of this year.
Gale is seeking the same access for a Richmond home game against Collingwood as the Tigers have against every other club.
“It’s not so much us v Collingwood, but people want to characterise it that way,” Gale said.
“But we’re not happy and it’s basically because, at its most simplest, it’s unfair and it has been for a long time.
“That deal was struck and there were circumstances at the time which may have warranted it, but for the last 10 years it has been prejudicial to our interests.
“We are asking our members, thousands of members and reserved seat holders, who pay good money and coterie group members, who use the room up there in the Ponsford Stand, when we play a home game v Collingwood, they have got to move.
“From our point of view, we don’t think the current arrangements are fair and they don’t reflect the substantial contribution we have made to the standing and status of the MCG, and similarly the other tenant clubs.
“What we are seeking is the same access, the same entitlements, the same benefits for a Collingwood home game as we have for every home game, it’s quite simple really.”
The deal only impacts the Tigers and other tenant clubs when they play Collingwood as the home team.
Richmond will face Collingwood at the MCG in round three for a Magpies’ home game.
Gale said the deal impacted the Tigers’ members’ match-day experience, but also bore a financial cost.
“There is the inconvenience which really affects the match-day experience and the experience at the stadium,” Gale said.
“But there is a cost as well because it impacts the value of those memberships, so they have got to be discounted to some extent and it all adds up.”
Gale wants a resolution to the issue by mid-year so the club can begin planning for 2024.
“We have to have the issue resolved soon because not long after the season starts, we begin to finalise and price membership programs and membership products for season 2024, which is then fed into budgets around June, July, August that period.
“So the clock is ticking and we want to get some sort of clarity in the not too distant future.
“We have been open and frank and transparent with Collingwood. For the last decade, I have been talking to the administration saying ‘I want you to understand, so you don’t hear it third hand, we don’t like these arrangements, they are prejudicial to the interests of our club’ and we are seeking to revisit them’. so that has been very consistent, very open and transparent.
“Those discussions have been had consistently with the MCC … I am confident we are getting a good hearing. We have a really important relationship (with the MCC). They are our landlords, but it’s a much more constructive relationship than that and we really enjoy our relationship with the MCC and I’m confident we’ll get to where we need to get to.”
The Magpies did not have any further comment to make beyond the statement issued to its Club 5 members and Legends Members from new chief executive Craig Kelly.
“Our club has held a long-term relationship with the MCC and the AFL regarding member seating allocations for games at our home-ground venue,” Kelly wrote.
“Our current agreement expires later this year and we remain in ongoing conversations with the MCC, AFL and other tenant clubs as we work towards getting the best deal for our Club 5 and Legends Members, whose unwavering support has been pivotal to the MCC’s success over a long period of time.
“Having just arrived at the club, the importance of getting this deal right is not lost on me and I assure you that I am absolutely committed to working with the MCC, the AFL and other tenant clubs to ensure we can continue to provide members with the best experience at the MCG, particularly in the Ponsford Stand.”
Originally published as Brendon Gale says Collingwood’s seating arrangements deal at the MCG is ‘unfair’