Eddie McGuire shored up boardroom support at Collingwood as the AFL club nervously awaits a key sponsor’s verdict on the Caroline Wilson controversy.
The board had a scheduled meeting on Tuesday and predictably backed their president, who continues to come under widespread criticism for his disparaging comments about the journalist.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed into the issue, saying there is no place for disrespecting women.
Car maker Holden, one of the club’s four premier sponsors, is yet to confirm whether its multi-million deal with the ‘Pies will continue.
Holden said on Monday night it was disappointed by the controversy and was reviewing its support of the club.
It had conversations with Collingwood officials through Tuesday, with a likely decision later this week.
Fellow top-level sponsors CGU Insurance and La Trobe Financial are said to have confirmed their ongoing deals with the club, despite disappointment about the controversy.
Collingwood released a statement late on Tuesday, saying the board accepted McGuire’s unreserved apology for his comments about Wilson.
“It also expressed its complete and ongoing support for his position as president,” the club said.
McGuire left the board meeting without comment.
But on Tuesday morning, he said he could understand Holden’s point of view.
“They’re entitled to it,” he told Triple M.
“They put their name to the club. I hope we can work through the situation.”
McGuire also made it clear on Tuesday morning that he would not resign from the Collingwood presidency.
“I will only be there if I’m a positive force and not a negative one,” he said.
“At the moment I have been a negative force for the past few days, but I will work hard.”
McGuire, North Melbourne chairman James Brayshaw and fellow commentator Danny Frawley all took shots at Wilson in a conversation on Triple M before the Queen’s Birthday match between Collingwood and Melbourne.
The ‘Pies president led the charge, saying he would donate $50,000 if Wilson next year was held under water in a charity ice pool.
Mr Turnbull said those in the public eye such as leaders and media personalities with a “big megaphone” had to be particularly careful with their words.
“We have to lead by example,” he said.
While the comments were made on June 13, it took until last Sunday for the issue to gain media traction.
On Monday, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan strongly criticised the comments, but the league will take no action against the three men.
AFL operations manager Mark Evans was asked on Tuesday whether the league should have taken stronger action.
“When you take such strong advice from people inside the industry and outside the industry, and they are complimentary of that, and it includes the national commissioner for equal opportunity, then I think he (McLachlan) has done a very good job,” Evans said.
Frawley and Brayshaw apologised for their comments, with McGuire following suit late on Monday with a video statement.
Frawley, an assistant coach at St Kilda, also fronted Saints players and staff on Tuesday to talk about the issue.
“If those comments about Caroline were made about one of my daughters, it would make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – wouldn’t have liked it at all,” Frawley said.
“To anyone who is saying ‘lighten up, it’s just a joke’, they need to understand that what we say matters and jokes like this about women are simply not on.”