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Bombers guarantee player payments

Essendon's Jobe Watson during training on Wednesday.

Essendon's Jobe Watson during training on Wednesday. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

Essendon will not allow its players to suffer financial penalties in the event that they are suspended by the AFL tribunal as a result of the supplements investigation.

While players can be docked money when suspended by the AFL tribunal, the Essendon hierarchy takes the view that the players themselves are blameless – and should not be suspended – but in the event that this happened the club plans to pay the players their full contracts, including match payments lost.

Skipper Jobe Watson, the club's highest paid player, would be paid all of his estimated $800,000 per season over the next four years, even if he was to be suspended for taking anti-obesity drug AOD9604, which has been deemed by banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it is not approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Watson, who signed that four-year contract a matter of weeks ago, this week acknowledged taking the drug.

The same would apply to all other Essendon players – they would be paid in full through any suspensions, which Essendon still believes they should avoid. The club's contention has long been that the players followed instructions – an argument strongly pushed by the AFL Players' Association that the AFL also has largely supported, despite the WADA code, which mandates bans of six months to two years for using prohibited substances.

As with all clubs, Essendon's better paid players, such as Watson, are on guaranteed money – they are paid a set amount and do not have a match payments component in their contracts.

The AFL's standard contract has a clause that permits clubs to dock players money if they are suspended, and that amount can be increased in proportion to the length of the suspension. But the club does not have to enforce this provision in the rules. Clubs can dock a player a week's pay – 1/52nd of their base salary; players on match payments, of course, typically lose that payment for every match missed.

Leading player management figure Craig Kelly recently argued that the club should pay any fine, or financial penalty, that a player suffered as a result of the joint Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority-AFL investigation into Essendon's use of supplements in 2012.

"If a player is penalised or fined for something he has unknowingly or inadvertently done then we would be arguing that the club should be paying that fine," Kelly told Fairfax Media.

Kelly's logic – that the players should be protected – has been accepted by the club. His ESP manages Watson and several other Essendon players, including the highly sought out-of-contract ruckman Tom Bellchambers, Brent Stanton and Brendon Goddard. As a recruit this year, the situation cannot apply to Goddard. Kelly said ESP would be seeing "certain things" in negotiating contracts for some Essendon players.

Watson's revelation that he took AOD9604, made during an interview on Fox Footy's On the Couch, has brought renewed focus on the Bombers, sparking a discussion about whether Watson should lose his 2012 Brownlow Medal and of the appropriate response from the AFL and ASADA, which are yet to complete the investigation.

56 comments

  • Let me get this right.........Jobe admits to using, Essendon FC announce they will pay all salaries as they don't think the players guilty. Doesn't this sound like an admission that EFC are guilty????? If this is the case then shouldn't they stand down before making any other decisions within the club??????
    This is getting ridiculous. They (EFC) continually state we will wait for the investigation to be completed before making any comments and then chuck out more stuff like this?????? This is gonna be messy methinks

    Commenter
    Pins and Needles
    Location
    Bloodstream
    Date and time
    June 27, 2013, 3:10PM
    • Further to that, I wonder if Melbourne is going to guarantee the salary of Jack Trengove too??!

      Commenter
      DJCJ
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 3:31PM
    • P&N,
      Your question mark button is sticking.

      Commenter
      gazgolfer
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 3:59PM
    • Curiously, the article doesn't actually say this was an announcent by EFC. There has certainly been no recent statement released by the club in this regard that I am aware of, and the author hasn't actually named any EFC official who has apparently made the statement. Sounds like another opinion piece masquerading as a new story.

      Commenter
      Andrew
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 4:03PM
    • Remember what happened to Warney for taking a diet drug his mum gave him? Justice was a lot swifter than this soap opera! Jobe is still playing this week!

      Commenter
      Craig
      Location
      Mordialloc
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 4:13PM
    • is this the efc saying its ok to take drugs because we will pay you any way if you do !

      Commenter
      nikraf of vic
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 4:22PM
    • You are right in saying let me get this straight!

      Irrespective of whatever ASADA thinks the drug AOD9604 isn't TGA approved. That to me suggests the rigours of scientific testing processes have not been applied. The parents of younger players ought to be absolutely horrified.

      What parent would subject their child to a clinical drug trial that would not get ethics approval?

      How is it that people paid huge sums seem to be devoid of an ethical compass that says taking of any drugs not fully tested is wrong as is trying to make these young lads perform at beyond normal.

      Have AFL players become sacks of meat to make money from? Have those in charge become some addicted to the thought of winning that they forget anything but winning?

      Pushing players to try or do things, creating cultures of abnormal physical well being, where you have to look up a rule book to double check you're not breaking the law is fundamentally wrong.

      I'd love it if the culture changed. No more injecting saline to rehydrate, no more training at altitude to boost your RBC count. No more Danks-like personalities peddaling their pharmaceuticals. Fundamentally a return to the passion and values that a guy like Teddy Whitten had.

      That's why he ought to hand back his Brownlow before ASADA or any findings. The road they went down was wrong, irrespective of whether it was or wasn't technically legal. Its such a shame for the decent and legendary Watson name that he appears to not even see that.

      Therin lies the tragedy and why it now becomes a game of who has the best masking agents or creates the new undetectable drugs.

      The problem is the idea of taking anything at all not whether its legal or not.

      Commenter
      MattG
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 5:38PM
  • Would this be a breach of salary cap if they do this?

    Commenter
    KyotoRoo
    Date and time
    June 27, 2013, 3:13PM
    • very good question.. guess we wont know until august

      Commenter
      james
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 3:41PM
    • How would it breach the cap? The contracts are already signed, and are within the cap.

      Commenter
      Barney
      Location
      The Real World
      Date and time
      June 27, 2013, 4:29PM

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