Rumours player will come out on The Footy Show
EDDIE McGuire has shut down speculation a gay AFL player will come out on this week's episode of The Footy Show.
McGuire is back with the program he started hosting in 1994 following Craig Hutchison's sacking and Thursday night will be his first appearance in the hot seat since his return was announced nearly three weeks ago.
McGuire has promised to bring plenty of changes to the show whose ratings have suffered in the face of fresh competition from Channel Seven's AFL program The Front Bar.
In response to what McGuire says is "internet rumour and innuendo", he assured Australia the AFL's first openly gay player would not be revealing themselves on the show this week.
"I can tell you that is absolute nonsense. No, that's not going to happen, that's not happening," McGuire told 96FM Perth's Carmen & Fitzi on Wednesday morning.
However, if that was the case, McGuire hopes players would feel comfortable talking openly about their personal issues on the The Footy Show.
"If it was the situation I would hope The Footy Show is a place people, particularly the players, feel safe," McGuire said.
"If that was a situation ... if that was the case, if there was a player that wanted to come out they should be able to do that on our show feeling that they can talk as humans in a situation where we need to address these issues."
McGuire said hosting The Footy Show again hadn't been on his mind because he'd "moved on" but decided to return because he wanted to bring the fun back into footy, an element he believes is missing in the current AFL media landscape.
"The thing that probably motivated me and got me thinking about a return to the show was writing the eulogy for Lou Richards' funeral and delivering that, and remembering why as a kid I fell in love with this game and more importantly the people who were superheroes to me when I was a kid," McGuire said.
"I want people to enjoy the joy of football.
"We have a lot of shows on TV now but a lot of them, they're carping, they're sacking people ... they've got as much fun as a tax audit."
The Collingwood president joins Rebecca Maddern and Sam Newman on the panel and despite Newman's bizarre protest in the last show to go to air three weeks ago, McGuire is confident the pair will work well together.
"He and I are firm friends, we have a tremendous on air chemistry and almost mental telepathy," McGuire told the media after Channel Nine confirmed his return.
"We're opposites in so many ways, but at the same time we have a genuine understanding and sense of humour and a real respect for each other."
McGuire also says he wants the show to be more focused on the players and connecting them to the fans who tune in every week.
"I think what has happened in recent times is maybe the focus of the show has been more on the left hand side of the panel (where the hosts sit) rather than the right hand side (where the players sit) when I was the host," McGuire said.
"That's what I want to get it back to. I want us to be a conduit to the players to be able to talk to the people who love them and find out more about them."