Australian Football League CEO Andrew Demetriou has disputed Melbourne Demons CEO Peter Jackson's assertion that Melbourne is "a huge impediment to the industry," but conceded the Demons' dreadful on-field performances had hurt the competition, according to Caroline Wilson of THE AGE. Defending the AFL's imminent decision to throw the club a seven-figure lifeline, which will fund Mark Neeld's A$600,000 ($572,000) payout, Demetriou said that "the club's lack of competitiveness was proving costly to other clubs." He said, "I don't believe they are an impediment to the competition -- they are a valuable part of the competition. But it is true that performances like these impact upon crowds and hurt the broadcasters when ratings are poor" (THE AGE, 6/18
). In Sydney, Matt Murnane reported former Melbourne champion David Schwarz has declared Neeld's sacking as the first day in the building of a "new club," and has warned a large group of players could also be axed by season's end.
Schwarz surmised that "the board had no choice but to dump Neeld." He said that "the players should not be spared for their part in making Melbourne the AFL's 'laughing stock.'" He added that "there were 20 players on the current list with their heads 'on the chopping block'" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 6/17
). In Melbourne, Michael Warner reported new Melbourne powerbroker Geoff Freeman has declared that "the stricken club can play finals within three years." Freeman said he would be "staggered" if the club's dramatic rebuild did not reap results. Freeman, 65, "is expected to assume Melbourne's presidency on his return from a pre-planned overseas trip in six weeks" (HERALD SUN, 6/17