Port Adelaide chairman David Koch says South Australian and West Australian fans will be furious if they are forced to pay to watch their team amid reports of a shock new TV rights deal.
Under the proposal, according to The Australian, matches involving the Power, Adelaide, West Coast and Fremantle might only be available on pay TV, instead of the current arrangement which sees games broadcast on Channel 7 in those states.
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Seven currently holds the free-to-air rights, while the pay TV rights are held by Foxtel in a deal that is set to expire at the end of next year.
Negotiations with the AFL over a new deal with those two media giants are ongoing, while ViacomCBS-owned Network Ten and Paramount+, as well as Nine Entertainment are also reportedly in the mix.
Speaking on Sunrise, Koch said it will be a disaster for fans if the proposed deal came to fruition.
“Nothing annoys Port Adelaide fans more than watching a game on delay, let alone not being able to access it on free-to-air in the first place,” Koch said.
WA Premier Mark McGowan called on the AFL to not abandon free-to-air coverage in his state.
“Free-to-air TV coverage of our local footy teams goes a long way to growing the game from the junior grassroots level, to country footy and all the way to professional level,” McGowan wrote on Facebook.
“It would be a sad day for Australia if people lost the opportunity to watch the football for free.
“I’d strongly urge the AFL to stick with free-to-air viewing of football.”
Meanwhile, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says staying COVID-safe is just another area where clubs must be disciplined if they want to win a premiership.
The league is insistent it will continue to push through surging case numbers and won’t postpone even finals should a team be wiped out with a number of absences because of health and safety protocols.
While a return to bubbles and mandating other stricter procedures seems off the cards, McLachlan suggested clubs would take it upon themselves to minimise the risk if they wanted to contend at the back-end of the year.
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“It feels there’s another surge going on now and we all know the steps we can do to protect ourselves, and I know the clubs know that and the players know that,” he told 7NEWS reporter Tom Browne.
“It’s individual responsibility … the players need to live their lives but we all know this is a discipline and resilience competition.
“The most disciplined clubs are going to have the most players available and I think everyone understands that and I know the players do.”
– With AAP