A timeline on 'tanking' in the AFL
Melbourne leads Richmond late in the final quarter of the round 18 game at the MCG but is beaten when Tiger Jordan McMahon kicks a goal after the siren. The match is notable for several Demons being played out of their usual positions. Under Dean Bailey, Melbourne wins one more game for the season but still finishes last with four wins, and secures a priority pick. At that year's national draft the Demons recruit Tom Scully and Jack Trengove with the first two picks.
Melbourne forward Russell Robertson tells a function players were played out of position towards the end of the season, and that players were disgruntled. "They haven't been especially happy with what happened and you can't really blame anyone. You can't blame the coach. It is more just the way the AFL is at the moment with the (priority draft pick) systems that are in place. You have to do these things if you are going to survive."
The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation asks for assurances that tanking is not occurring. It later says it is satisfied with the measures the league had in place to ensure the integrity of games.
The AFL announces the priority pick system will remain in place, but the draft allowances granted to the Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney effectively kill off the speculation, by pushing the priority pick well down the order.
Sydney coach Paul Roos infers a culture of tanking exists among lowly-placed teams late in the season when, in the lead-up to a round 17 game against Melbourne, he says: "Games will be a lot more competitive towards the end of this year than what they have been in the past four or five." Melbourne later thrashes the Swans by 73 points and finishes the season in 12th spot.
After a 186-point defeat to Geelong, Bailey is sacked as Melbourne coach. He tells his farewell press conference two days later he had coached early in his tenure to ensure the Demons had the best draft picks. "I was asked to do the best thing by the Melbourne Football Club and I did it. I put players in different positions to enable them (to develop) ... I think the whole football club agreed we wanted to develop our players, so we did." The AFL questions Bailey over his comments but is satisfied tanking did not take place.
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett claims Melbourne avoided a penalty for tanking because of the ailing state of the club and the ill-health of the club's president, Jim Stynes. "If it had been any other club, the AFL would have come down on them like a ton of hot bricks," Kennett says.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou reiterates his view that tanking does not exist, but warns that any coach found to have deliberately tanked games would be banished from football for life. "He would never work in football again. There would be an investigation into the club and there would be severe sanctions," he says.
The AFL announces it will scrap its system where priority picks were granted in the first round of the draft, and confirms it has devised a new formula to aid struggling clubs. AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson says it would be "extremely difficult and rare" for clubs to to be granted a priority pick prior to the first round draft or after only one year's poor performance.
Former Melbourne player Brock McLean says the Demons tanked games in 2009 and that the issue had prompted him to leave the club. Asked on Fox Footy's On the Couch program whether winning had not been a priority for the Demons that year, the now Carlton player says: "Definitely, and I think you would have to be blind freddy to not figure that one out."
The AFL launches another investigation and appoints its integrity officer, Brett Clothier, to interview McLean. Clothier is given the power to interview others should he deem it appropriate. Former Melbourne chairman Paul Gardner, who landed the leadership to Stynes in 2008, says he has no doubt the club was tanking to gain draft picks in 2008 and 2009.
Melbourne chairman Don McLardy defends his club's integrity and says the Demons were using the same list management strategy that it was in 2008 and 2009. Melbourne finishes the season in 16th spot with four wins under coach Mark Neeld.