Eddie McGuire confirms:
Of all the things to emerge from this drama, probably the most significant was the clubs’ reasserting that we need to maintain the sanctity of an independent AFL Commission to govern the game.
That and the need for football to adjudicate inside its own tent.
The AFL is like a big boisterous family: we can give it to each other mercilessly but we don’t take our issues elsewhere.
Full marks to Essendon and James Hird who, despite their desperation to win the day, stopped short of heading off to the Supreme Court.
Anyone in football can do that. Get an excitable president with deep pockets who decides to blow up the salary cap and the draft system, and the game will be in ruins in no time.
The logic behind maintaining sporting cartels is that, unlike other businesses, sporting teams must collaborate in order to compete. So the rules of the game must be agreed in advance and only then can the game commence. That is all well and good – but the problem is, as McGuire indicates, sporting teams collaborate on too many margins and are legally fragile.
This raises an interesting problem – cartels are said to be inherently unstable with participants facing many incentive to cheat. It turns out there is lots of cheating in professional sports – salary cap breaches have probably been the most common. Add to that the non-tanking scandal at Melbourne and the not-drug taking at Essendon. We have yet to observe a serious defection from the cartel.
I was hopeful that Essendon were going to blow up the AFL last week; but alas no. For reasons unknown disputes within the AFL do not spill into the courts or stay there long if they do. So nobody with legal standing ever challenges the cartel. Surprisingly that includes the ACCC – an organisation that always has standing to investigate any cartel but chooses to spend its time harassing business while ignoring the biggest cartel in town.