Eddie McGuire’s night out at a Gold Coast club over the weekend has raised some eyebrows but the Collingwood president claims his Saturday outing at the Pink Flamingo was official business.
McGuire’s appearance with his son at the burlesque and cabaret venue prompted criticism – including from his Hawthorn counterpart, Jeff Kennett – but on Monday he sought to play down the night out by explaining it was a reconnaissance mission to find out how similar venues in Victoria can re-open in a Covid-safe way.
“As you are well aware, I do a few different things in my life, including being on the board of Visit Victoria, and … speak extensively to people in the restaurant and hospitality industry about how we get Victoria going again,” McGuire said on Triple M on Monday morning. “[That is] part of what I was looking at the other night and how that all works.
“What I did was I booked a dinner on Saturday night – the last night that I’ve got, because the next four weeks I’m flat out doing Hot Seat and hosting and all sorts of different things. I went through the procedure on how you go about doing things if you are outside the hub.”
Hawthorn president Kennett had taken aim at McGuire, saying his opposite number’s “jiving at the Pink Flamingo” was “a hell of a contradiction”, given AFL players and officials remain under effective lockdown in hubs. “It looks silly,” Kennett said.
But McGuire is not part of the Pies’ hub and did not break any biosecurity rules by the night out. Nor is he part of the AFL hub on the Gold Coast, and the league will take no action against him. “So just for clarity, I’m not in the Collingwood hub. It was [a reconnaissance mission], pretty much,” he said.
McGuire has called for tough sanctions and hefty fines to be meted out for players who breach Covid-19 protocols, and has been outspoken in his criticism of players from other clubs caught out.
He said of Richmond pair Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones – who left their hub before getting into a drunken altercation outside a strip club – that “the idiot soup kicked in on them and they decided it was a good idea to break every rule they’ve been told for the last three months”.
But he was forced to answer claims of hypocrisy in July when Pies midfielder Steele Sidebottom was given a relatively lenient sanction and not stripped of the vice-captaincy for multiple breaches of the protocols.