AFL priorities were wrong, says Roos
Paul Roos: 'I guess the biggest problem is the system created by the AFL to give teams the incentive to lose games of football.' Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY premiership coach Paul Roos blames the AFL for creating an environment where teams were encouraged to perform poorly, and said he felt sorry for Melbourne fans who went to games hoping to lose.
The AFL on Wednesday defended its verdict that the Demons did not deliberately lose games in 2009 in order to secure draft picks, as the league's chief executive, Andrew Demetriou, said there was no evidence proving tanking existed.
But Roos, who steered the Swans to the 2005 flag and who had just two top-10 draft picks in his eight years there, said the AFL's former system, where Melbourne gained a priority pick for winning just four games in 2009, contributed to the Demons benefiting from poor results.
''I guess the biggest problem is the system created by the AFL to give teams the incentive to lose games of football,'' Roos told SEN.
''That was the system that was in place at that particular time and clearly there were clubs that took advantage of that.''
Roos said he favoured measures designed to reduce the temptation for sides to lose, such as a lottery draft system and financial incentives for teams to finish higher.
''I think that's a better system - a reward system as opposed to a system that rewards you for losing,'' he said. ''Whether it comes as a lottery pick, whether it comes as a financial reward as you're moving up the ladder, I'd subscribe to that.''
The AFL found Melbourne not guilty of tanking but fined it $500,000 because it was responsible for football manager Chris Connolly and coach Dean Bailey acting in a manner that was prejudicial to the league's interests. Connolly was suspended from all football until February 1 next year for comments he made to football department staff and Bailey cannot serve as an assistant coach at Adelaide for the first 16 games of this season because of positional and selection decisions he made.
Demetriou said the league's investigation found no evidence Melbourne deliberately lost games in 2009. ''I repeat, there is nothing to substantiate that players and the club were not trying to win that football match. People will speculate … but we can only go on the evidence,'' he told 3AW.
''If there was any more evidence to the contrary - that players had come forward and said they weren't trying to win - [but] that was not the evidence that was gathered, that was not evidence that was produced.''
The AFL's investigation is complete, but the Demons' actions in 2009 are still the subject of a probe by Victoria's gambling regulator.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation began investigating Melbourne last year after former Demon Brock McLean said his old club tanked games three years earlier.
The commission can withdraw gaming machine licences - the Demons own two venues in south-eastern Melbourne - if it believes an organisation has acted inappropriately. The regulator can also set gambling conditions on the AFL and order the league to provide the evidence it gathered in its investigation of Melbourne. A commission spokeswoman confirmed the regulator was still looking at the Demons.
A spokesman for state Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty said the investigation was an AFL matter.