Kelly’s “competitive advantage” set to mirror that behind Geelong’s premiership

Kelly’s “competitive advantage” set to mirror that behind Geelong’s premiership

The appointment of Craig Kelly as Collingwood’s chief executive will give the Magpies an insight rival clubs can only dream of.

Kelly was installed on Monday after months of speculation that he was the club’s man, resigning from sports marketing agency TLA in the process.

The former Magpie – who founded and ran TLA – resigned from his executive and board positions when he accepted the position at Collingwood.

In addition to many business interests, TLA has a management arm and serves more than 300 AFL players and a number of coaches.

SEN’s Sam Edmund compared the appointment to that of Steve Hocking in Geelong, where upon his return as CEO the Cats claimed the flag a year later.

“The competitive edge, if there’s a comparison … is Steve Hocking is returning to Geelong 12 months ago after being the AFL’s chief footballer and having been quite active in that role as an agent for change, if you will, and a number of Introduced tweaks and rule changes to speed up the game and then he comes in and joins Geelong,” Edmund explained on SEN Breakfast.

“The competitive advantage that this brings will be reflected with the Craig Kelly acquisition, albeit in a different form…it will be tremendous.”

Credited with resetting Geelong, Hocking played a role in the process of Geelong embracing a new style of play that proved successful in 2022.

Kelly sold TLA Australia for over $30 million in 2019 but served as CEO until joining Collingwood.

While Kelly says he doesn’t manage any current players, Edmund believes that as an industry veteran and responsible for the largest player management agency in the AFL, he clearly has a unique insight into the Magpies.

“His knowledge of what the salary structure is like in the competition and in the market and what the value of players is and what it’s going to be and what it’s going to be will be almost second to none,” added Edmund.

“He’s coming to a club that, let’s be honest, have had salary cap concerns in the past and are still pretty close to the cap.

“He is an absolute expert in this field. All of the diversification of Collingwood’s business interests that has given them grief over time, as well as his off-field expertise, even off the ground, will be tremendous for the Pies.

Kelly – who denies a conflict of interest – will begin Collingwood on Feb. 20, just under a month before the 2023 AFL season.

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