Demons should embrace elitism: McNamee - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Demons should embrace elitism: McNamee

By Adam Cooper 19/03/2008 04:04:10 PM Comments (0)

Incoming chief executive Paul McNamee believes Melbourne must embrace the perception it is an elitist AFL club and become a powerhouse in the city it shares a name with.

McNamee will spearhead the Demons' push to become a big player in Melbourne's crowded sports market by using the nous he is famed for after successful spells as chief executive of the Australian tennis and golf opens and tournament director of the Hopman Cup.

Excited by the challenge of running an AFL club, McNamee said Melbourne should not shy away from its image of an establishment club supported by bluebloods who favour skiing holidays and four-wheel drives.

Instead of trying to shed that image, McNamee plans to encourage those supporters to attend more games, buy more merchandise and form partnerships as sponsors.

"Your weakness can be your strength," he said.

"Because they have their purchasing power to go and do that, so let's make it a strength, not a weakness.

"You've got to accept what your heartland is. It is a pretty elite club, I don't see that as a weakness."

McNamee will start at Melbourne on April 7 and aim to continue the Demons' turnaround from an under-performing club both on- and off-field.

Without a premiership since 1964, the Dees remain in debt and are financially dependent on the AFL, have a low membership and cannot rightfully claim a home, as they train at the Junction Oval and have administrative offices at the MCG.

Chairman Paul Gardner, who hired McNamee from a field of 55, said things were headed in the right direction, as the Demons were one of three tenants at the planned Olympic Park Stadium and had halved their debt, to $2.6 million, since 2004.

He said the signing of one of Australia's top sports administrators was a major coup.

"Melbourne has never been more ready for Paul McNamee," Gardner said.

"Just as (football manager) Chris Connolly's joined the club and also is a terrific guy and spruiking the club and talking it up, that's something that Paul will do as well.

"We think the two of them will actually get the Melbourne Football Club back into the headlines and the papers for the right reasons."

McNamee said his focus lay off-field, "fighting for the corporate dollar", and that his mind was already ticking about the opportunities for the Demons in their 150th anniversary year.

He said the Demons had to boost their membership to 30,000, and forge stronger partnerships with the AFL, Melbourne Cricket Club and Melbourne city council.

"These four parties in partnership, we can do a lot and we (the Demons) can work towards being a bit more of a powerhouse than what we've been," he said.

Melbourne disciplined Brock McLean, Colin Sylvia and Nathan Carroll over the summer, and McNamee was satisfied those sort of decisions were left to the club's leadership group.

"We've seen that with the decisions that have been made this year they've shown pretty good leadership there," he said.

McNamee will continue his Hopman Cup duties, given the tournament runs for a fortnight over the summer.

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