Demons ditch EnergyWatch over CEO's 'abhorrent' Facebook slurs
The Melbourne Football Club has terminated its association with major sponsor EnergyWatch over "disgraceful and abhorrent" comments made by its chief executive officer.
Ben Polis, chief executive and co-owner of EnergyWatch, which gives the Demons about $2 million a year, has admitted attacking Aborigines, Asians, women and Prime Minister Julia Gillard, on his Facebook page.
This afternoon, he stepped down from the helm of the company he co-founded.
The club, which was reportedly locked in crisis talks last night, released a statement today saying the board had met to consider its sponsorships with EnergyWatch and Freedom SEO.
‘‘The comments made by their CEO are disgraceful and abhorrent,’’ the statement said.
‘‘The club has terminated these sponsorships, effective immediately.’’
Melbourne chief executive Cameron Schwab said a teleconference of the board this morning unanimously decided to immediately terminate sponsorships.
"It would be fair to say it was a very short phone conference,’’ Schwab said.
‘‘It was a decision that which require much consideration. Clearly the comments are so far outside of the expectations of our club — and our game — and the context of the players who play for our club the club had no choice but to make the decision.’’
‘‘It’s been a challenging time for our club and, quite clearly, this is another challenge we have to face.’’
Another key client - Momentum Energy, owned by Hydro Tasmania - this afternoon also terminated its relationship with EnergyWatch.
‘‘The reason is simple — the values expressed by Mr Polis are at odds with what we are about as a company and as Australians,’’ managing director Nigel Clark said. ‘‘The situation in untenable to carry forward. When you read some of the comment, it’s pretty startling.’’
Another electricity supplier, TruEnergy, is also believed to have terminated its relationship. It is believed one of EnergyWatch's biggest clients is AGL, which Polis ridiculed in a recent Facebook post.
The saga even drew in the Prime Minister, whom Polis labelled a ‘‘peasant’’ online before thanking her for introducing the carbon tax and scaring Australians about power prices.
Ms Gillard this morning said the racist and sexist comments were ‘‘nasty’’.
"I'm not worried about the statements about me, but I think your description of nasty of some of the commentary is right," Ms Gillard said.
"Some of it is very, very nasty about great indigenous players, some of it very nasty about women too."
Among many others, Mr Polis sledged indigenous Demons player Liam Jurrah in the wake of his arrest last month in Alice Springs over a machete attack.
Along with a doctored image of Jurrah holding a large knife, Mr Polis reportedly makes offensive wisecracks about the player’s tattoos being confused with "ring worm" and him having "never been to a doctor in his life, he comes from out back bit past Carrum Downs (sic)".
The entrepreneur denied he had "a beef with Aboriginals" when questioned by the Herald Sun, saying the comments were private jokes. He said he couldn’t be a racist because his cleaner was Asian and he had once dated "a half-Aboriginal woman".
"If you get on to my Facebook I make comments about every single race," he was quoted as saying.
"In relation to Liam Jurrah ... has it offended the Melbourne Football Club, well obviously the answer is yes, I think they will probably be very upset. I want to apologise to Liam Jurrah."
Mr Polis is also accused of ridiculing EnergyWatch customers who signed up to his business on Christmas Day as "Muslims and Jews" and claiming Asian girls "add no value to society apart from insurance premiums ’cause they can’t drive."
Mr Polis also sledges A-League club Melbourne Victory, which he sponsors along with Melbourne rugby club the Rebels.
Rebels chairman Harold Mitchell told 3AW the club's board would meet this morning to discuss the future of the sponsorship deal after checking to make sure Mr Polis had not been "set up".
If the comments were real, he said he wanted to know how quickly the company logo could be removed from players' jerseys.
3AW's morning host Neil Mitchell revealed EnergyWatch had sponsored the radio station’s football coverage, an association that was now also under review.
‘‘[EnergyWatch has] sponsored parts of the footy, they’ve run ads. That’s under review and that’s a pretty complex area actually, but the management is having a look at it,’’ Mitchell said on air this morning.
Mr Polis, who suffers from ADHD, is the author of a book, Only a Mother Could Love Him: How I Lived with and Triumphed Over ADHD.
The book details Mr Polis’s turbulent childhood, including how he attended six schools and how he killed a dog when he was four years old.
EnergyWatch advertises itself as Australia’s number one energy broker. The company, formed in 2009, checks residential and businesses’ current electricity and gas rates with the company’s preferred suppliers.
Last year, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission initiated proceedings in the Federal Court against Energy Watch Pty Ltd and Mr Polis for alleged misleading or deceptive conduct and making false representations in contravention of the Australian Consumer Law.
The ACCC alleged that EnergyWatch made false representations on television, radio and print advertising, on websites and billboards, and advertising displayed on a scoreboard at the MCG during AFL games.
The alleged misleading information concerned the amount consumers had saved and would save by using its services, and claims that EnergyWatch compared the rates of all or many of the energy retailers in the relevant geographic area of a consumer...
Results 1 to 4 of 4
05-Apr-2012 06:28 PM
05-Apr-2012 06:36 PMSingapore: oppresses Muslims, bans athaan, bans hijab in schools, prevents building of madrassahs or muslim schools, puts limit on the percentage of Muslims allowed in each apartment building, and bans Muslims from joining Singapore's elite military forces. Singapore; Israel's best buddy!
05-Apr-2012 06:39 PMSingapore: oppresses Muslims, bans athaan, bans hijab in schools, prevents building of madrassahs or muslim schools, puts limit on the percentage of Muslims allowed in each apartment building, and bans Muslims from joining Singapore's elite military forces. Singapore; Israel's best buddy!
07-Apr-2012 12:41 PM
- Join Date
- Jul 2006
lol the guy looks like a bogan, what do you expect? But how low can gillard get? putting her 2 cents into something that doesn't concern her, for political gain..Sahih Muslim Book 41, Number 6954:Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The Last Hour would not come before a person of Qahtan comes forth driving people with his stick.