Future of Legends Charity AFL Game Unclear
4 December 2015 at 5:45 pm
The EJ Whitten Foundation has parted ways with the organiser of the popular AFL celebrity charity match following a dispute over finances.
News Corp reported on Friday that events management company, Baker Smith Management, did not have their contract to run the Legends Game renewed, due to hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for cancer research used instead for costs and fees.
The foundation’s Chief Executive, Barry Besanko, told the ABC that Baker Smith Management had refused to provide financial records for the past five years.
“The turnover of the game certainly of the last five years has been over $1 million, and we've been requesting paperwork for the last five years, and unfortunately Baker Smith hasn't wanted to disclose any of those figures to us,” Besanko said.
In response to the media coverage, the EJ Whitten Foundation also released a statement confirming the split.
“The EJ Whitten Foundation and Baker Smith Management have… parted company allowing the EJ Whitten Foundation to more directly work with its stakeholder interests across a range of event activities,” the statement said.
“This move goes toward ensuring that the maximum possible returns and subsequent benefits flow to those institutions, individuals and families dealing with prostate cancer and men’s health issues.”
The statement also separated the foundation from any involvement in funds mismanagement.
“Today’s report in the papers is specifically around the monies raised by Baker Smith Management and the Legends game,” it said.
“We are a benefactor of that game which contracts us to receive $100,000 per year.
“We do not and have not benefitted from any other proceeds around the running of that game.”
The foundation said that public records showed, on average, 30 per cent of all gross funds raised were given to benefactors before costs. It said after costs this came to 50 per cent, which “is very substantial”.
The EJ Whitten Foundation and Baker Smith Management ran the Legends Game together for 20 years.