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US trip is no junket, says McGuire

Matt Thompson  July 29, 2013 9:22 AM

Mission to America The search for equalisation
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Collingwood president Eddie McGuire

EDDIE McGuire says he's prepared to repay the cost of his trip to the US with an AFL-sponsored group if the lessons learned "don't make 15 times more than the investment".

McGuire's comment was in response to critics calling the AFL's week-long New York study trip "a junket."

Meetings are due to begin on Monday night Australian time.

The Collingwood president was joined in the US by a delegation that included AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and his deputy Gillon McLachlan, two other club presidents, three club CEOs and AFLPA chief Matt Finnis.

The trip, which will include meetings with representatives from the NFL, NBA, MLB and broadcasting giant ESPN, is designed to help find a solution to the AFL's great equalisation conundrum.

"I'll guarantee you, whatever the budget is, if we don't come back with five ideas that don't make 15 times more than the investment, then I will pay the money," McGuire told AFL.com.au ahead of the flight.

The AFL is on a mission to try to find a way that any of its 18 teams can beat any other on any given day.

"In your lifetime, if you're a player, if you're a coach, if you're a supporter, you want your team, once every 18 years to win a grand final, and that's not an unreasonable expectation," Demetriou said.

"This uncertainty of outcome is better for the fans, it's better for supporters, it's better for membership and when you have that you have great broadcasting, you have lots of viewers, you have lots of attendances."

It's an issue that divides the code - the rich clubs want to keep their share of the pie, while the weaker clubs are seeking a greater slice of revenue.  

Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon said the AFL Commission must ultimately be empowered to make the call.

"You don't get the likes of the LA Lakers or the New York Knicks saying, well we don't care what head office says, we're going to do it this way," Gordon told AFL.com.au.

But McGuire disagreed: "I say that anyone who doesn't question any organisation, particularly a head office, is on a fast track to disaster."

Demetriou said, "Everyone's got a view about where they start, but it's where we finish which is important and we are definitely come back better informed and that is going to make it easier to come up with solutions."

The AFL chief defended his decision to leave the country with the ASADA-AFL investigation into Essendon's supplements program bearing completion.

"I can't foresee anything because all we've been told is that we're expecting the report some time in August," Demetriou told AFL.com.au before flying out. 

"I'm sure there'll be headlines that we're out of the country, and that some disaster's happened, but look we've got capable people here," he said. 

Demetriou said he'd be keeping in contact with staff at AFL House.

"I'm sure if anything does happen we'll be across it," he said. 

"It's important that we do this trip, you've got to plan these things well in advance.

"This has been three months in the making, to lock away people." 

Matt Thompson is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @MattThompsonAFL