‘Hugely unhappy’ Holden reviewing sponsorship of Collingwood over Eddie McGuire comments

holden collingwoodOne of the biggest sponsorship deals in Australian sport is under threat with car maker Holden confirming it is reviewing its deal with AFL club Collingwood in the wake of president Eddie McGuire’s comments about a female journalist on radio last week.

In a statement, Holden said McGuire’s comments during a live radio segment on TripleM “call into question the culture of the club” saying it “prides itself on diversity, inclusion and social responsibility” as “cornerstones of our business”.

“Among the comments broadcast last week at the Big Freeze fundraiser at the MCG were statements by McGuire that we would pay for Wilson to be dunked in cold water, saying: “I reckon we should start the campaign for a one-person slide next year featuring Caroline Wilson and I’ll put in 10 grand straight away, make it 20. And if she stays under, 50. What do you reckon guys?”

The deal, thought to be worth north of $3m-per-year, provides Holden with naming rights on Collingwood’s headquarters, while coach Nathan Buckley sports a Holden logo on his collar during press appearances. It was renewed for a three-year term last season.

Collingwood's headquarters is called the Holden Centre

Collingwood’s headquarters is known as the Holden Centre

Collingwood is one of the most supported clubs in the country across any code with 55,000 signed-up members, although this season’s numbers are 20,000 down on last year’s record highs as the club has struggled more on the oval in recent times.

Last night McGuire issued yet another apology over the incident, this time on the Collingwood website, in a two-and-a-half minute piece to camera in which he admits it “could be seen as men in a pack mentality attacking a woman”.

He adds: “I’m long past thinking of Caroline as anything but Caroline Wilson. Gender has never entered my head in terms of the role she plays. In fact I hired her for her role on Footy Classified as she was the best person for the job”.

He also said he was going to make a “personal contribution” to a domestic violence charity.

Speaking with Fairfax media Holden spokesman, Sean Poppit, said the company is “hugely unhappy and extremely disappointed” with McGuire’s comments.

In a full statement, the company said: “Holden categorically disapproves of Eddie McGuire’s inappropriate comments, along with those of his co-hosts. Holden prides itself on diversity, inclusion and social responsibility – they are cornerstones of our business and culture.

“Comments like these, regardless of their intent, have no place in today’s Australia and reflect poorly on the Collingwood Football Club, its fans, stakeholders and sponsors. Unfortunately, it can call into question the culture of the club, overshadowing good work done in the diversity space and local communities.

“Holden is engaging with Collingwood to express our disappointment directly and discuss our sponsorship.”

Mumbrella’s Sports Marketing Summit on July 28 features a session ‘Should I stay or go?’ looking at when its time to ditch sponsorships, or stick by your partners. Click the banner below for more details.



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