Conspiracy theorists might believe otherwise, but AFL boss Andrew Demetriou stresses that the major football code in the country did not attempt to scupper Australian efforts to bring the major football code in the world Down Under.
It could be equated to Daniel stepping into the lions den but Demetriou did not bat an eyelid as he took centre stage at a Melbourne Victory In Business lunch at Crown, in which he fronted over 900 corporate supporters of the FFA’s biggest club.
And he moved quickly to assure some of his biggest critics that the AFL had not schemed to undermine Australia’s bid to bring the World Cup to these shores as it recognised the sporting and economic value of bringing the world’s biggest event here.
“We were not popping champagne corks. We were as disappointed as everyone else that this country and this state was not going to be able to host games,” he said.
Demetriou said that as a young man he had always tuned in to television coverage of the English game in pre-Premiership days, marvelling at the intensity of the Liverpool-Manchester United clashes and at the skills of players like Leeds winger Eddie Gray and Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish.
Given that his background was Greek-Cypriot he had always kicked a round ball as well as an oval ball around the yard behind his parents fish and chip shop in Coburg “or in Woolies car park”, he reminisced.
But the former North Melbourne Australian rules winger who has since made his reputation on the back of some of Australian sport’s biggest TV deals admitted that if anyone had told him that one day the Premiership “would be worth over $7.5 billion to broadcasters I would have told you you were mad”.
Demetriou praised Victory for the inroads it had made on the social, business and sporting landscape and suggested that competition — from within and from rival codes — was good for a sport. The advent of West Sydney Wanderers had pushed the AFL’s Giants to lift its efforts in that region, he said.
Any sport or business that rested on its laurels was doomed and the AFL embraced all new challenges and opportunities, Demetriou said.
“If it ain’t broke, then fix it anyway,” was the organisation’s motto, he said.
And purists in the room would have been delighted to note that the AFL supremo referred to his own code as “Aussie rules” and the round ball game as football.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.