And in a totally new look Saturday coverage the Seven network has recruited some big name former AFL stars.
Former Western Bulldogs big man Luke Darcy and Collingwood Coleman medallist Brian Taylor are big recruits for Seven’s Saturday afternoon and night matches for the next five seasons starting from next year.
Seven regulars and budding match broadcasters Hamish McLachlan and SEN commentator Basil Zempilas look set to be part of Saturday afternoon coverage on the nation-wide telecasts.
The delicate negotiations did not attract a move from popular Fox Sports broadcaster Dwayne Russell or Channel 10’s Anthony Hudson.
Essendon goal-kicking and premiership legend Matthew Lloyd was also overlooked after his two years at Ten, since his retirement at the end of 2009.
Russell, 46, has agreed to another five year at Fox where he is host of Monday night’s fashionable Winners program and describes two games each weekend on the pay television network.
Russell is also expected to continue his co-hosting duties at 3AW with influential broadcaster and 1988 Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy.
Hudson, 40, looks headed to Fox Sports as a direct replacement in Taylor’s departure.
Seven won the rights to four matches in the AFL weekly nine-game fixtures and elected to retain all telecasts rather than sell-off broadcasts to Channel Nine or Ten, who have pulled out of match day coverage.
Cometti, 62 and McAvaney, 58, are understood to have agreed to terms on new five-year deals early this week, completing weeks of negotiations and speculation on Seven’s new commentary teams and appointment of duties.
The veteran pair are widely regarded as the finest sports broadcasters in the nation with vast backgrounds in a variety of Olympic, cricket and thoroughbred racing between them.
Cometti and McAvaney will continue to head up Friday night and Sunday telecasts.
According to sources close to those negotiations, Seven’s entire match broadcast team recruitment is understood to have been confirmed among the network’s top executives on Wednesday in Melbourne.
Seven’s new signings appear a management coup for former Magpies 1990 premiership defender Craig Kelly.
The influential player and celebrity agent manages the affairs of Darcy and Taylor as well as McLachlan who is a current Channel Seven AFL regular Melbourne studio panel host.
Taylor carved out a colourful career as a key forward at Richmond where he played 43 games from 1980-84 and then 97 matches at Collingwood from ’85-90.
He will switch from Fox Sports as a match day commentator and mid-week panel chairman of the popular Teams program on Thursday nights.
Taylor, 48, will continue broadcasting two matches each round with top Melbourne-based radio station 3AW.