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Bombers' secret talks

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Caroline Wilson, Mark Hawthorne and Jake Niall

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Hird confident about Essendon in the finals

Essendon coach James Hird has a spring in his step as the club's finals hopes start to look healthier.

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A pre-finals settlement between Essendon and the AFL remained on the table on Tuesday night, despite the Bombers seeking and receiving an adjournment from the AFL Commission hearing on Monday.

The 2013 finals series could still go ahead without the Bombers, despite the club's defiant stance it would fight any punishment from the AFL.

Fairfax Media can reveal the AFL Commission held secret talks in Melbourne on Monday as it sought to clarify key elements of the Essendon charges and the club's situation.

Paul Little: Saga could drag into September and beyond.

Paul Little: Saga could drag into September and beyond. Photo: Ken Irwin

It is also understood Essendon chairman Paul Little has remained in talks with AFL executive Gillon McLachlan over the past two days, with Little taking a measured approach to the club's predicament.

The stumbling block remains the club's refusal to accept that it oversaw a program that allowed illegal drugs to be administered to its players. Essendon remains adamant it will not accept any sanction that linked the club to drug cheating. The stripping of points, according to the Bombers, would be tantamount to suggestions of doping.

The AFL refused to comment on Monday's unscheduled Commission meeting, but Fairfax Media believes several meetings relating to the Essendon scandal have been held as the saga has unfolded.

James Hird, coach of the Essendon Football Club leaving home the morning after  Dean Robinson said his side of the Footy Club's drug saga. 1ST AUGUST 2013 PHOTO: PENNY STEPHENS THE AGE Click for more photos

Essendon's supplement crisis

As its on-field fortunes rose early in 2013, Essendon's off-field reputation was besmirched by drawn-out and confusing investigations into the club's sport science practices. Photo: Penny Stephens

Coach James Hird, who also faces serious charges under the conduct unbecoming rules, appears determined to extend his battle to clear his name. But a divergence of legal paths between the club and the four individuals charged - Hird, assistant coach Mark Thompson, club doctor Bruce Reid and football manager Danny Corcoran - has emerged as a genuine prospect, with Little prioritising the club's sanctions ahead of his key staffers. Hird remains unwilling to negotiate with the AFL.

In a separate development, Kevin Sheedy has confirmed he was in Melbourne last week and ''spoke to Essendon people''. He added he expected to meet chairman Paul Little ''at some stage''.

Little said before addressing players and their families on Tuesday night that the matter could potentially now drag beyond September. ''I think our legal team have sought an adjournment today from next Monday. We believe that we haven't been given the information that we required in relation to who will appear to support the charges. There are some procedural issues that are still outstanding for us, so we requested an adjournment."

Regarding the finals deadline, he added: ''I think if the AFL give us the time that we need to prepare for this, there is little chance of it being finalised before the finals."

But it is understood there are divisions within the club and also among Essendon directors over Little's desire to settle the matter with the AFL.

Fairfax Media believes some directors, led by Little, remain open to seeking a resolution with the AFL before the 2013 finals. Not playing finals this year along with a seven-figure fine and draft penalties are possible AFL sanctions.

Little and some advisers remain fearful of the protracted dispute spilling into 2014. Not only are senior Bombers concerned about the ongoing damage to Essendon's brand but also the significant strain on club finances and the potential ramifications for membership and sponsorship.

While Essendon remains united in its determination to force the AFL to identify its witnesses and further evidence before any hearing, uncertainty prevailed on Tuesday night over how to manage Hird and his lieutenants. Some directors remained concerned Hird and his senior staffers could become collateral damage as the result of a resolution with the AFL.

Little understands the Bombers are likely to receive some softening of penalties should his team bring the case to a close before the end of next week

56 comments

  • Essendon there is no doubt your officials and the club have brought the game into disrepute. NO DOUBT accept the penalties and move on for the sake ogf the game

    Commenter
    Mev1
    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 9:20AM
    • How have they brought the game into disrepute? The drug they took (AOD) was legal. What exactly has Essendon done wrong?

      Commenter
      JordanS88
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 10:11AM
    • Acceptance of sanctions, penalties, fines or whatever in advance of a 'hearing' at which the accused have made it VERY clear they will be pleading 'not guilty'?? If this were a criminal investigation and this much unsubstantiated conjecture and trial by a gossip mongering uninformed media had gone on before anybody put a foot on a step of the courthouse, it would be thrown out in a heartbeat. That the AFL has got itself into a position where they have to find somebody guilty of something to mollify the media demonstrates just who's running the whole sorry show. AFL is a great game but the freak show that surrounds it in its organisation and reporting through a gutter press looking to sensationalise absolutely anything at all through blind speculation and innuendo is a sad reflection on the fact that AFL is no longer primarily a sport but a business.

      Commenter
      TT1959
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 10:36AM
    • What's with the staffer coming out and saying ASADA told him is not banned. Did the ASADA official say it was approved for human use?? There's a difference.

      Commenter
      Dave
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 10:39AM
    • Dave it does not matter if it was not fit for human use, even though he said it was not a dangerous drug. AOD is classified under S2. A drug CANNOT be classified under 2 sections so the S0 clause has NO effect. It does not matter if the drug is not fit for human use as it was LEGAL TO USE. End of story

      Commenter
      JordanS88
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 11:08AM
    • JordanS88, be honest... you've been in a coma for 7 months yeah?

      Commenter
      Delusional
      Location
      Windy Hill
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:14PM
    • Jordan, correct me if i am wrong but doesnt that logic work in reverse - if it was on teh S0 list doesnt that make the S2 redundant...?

      Commenter
      BluLou
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:46PM
    • Great reporting Caro.

      It is becoming pretty clear that James Hird considers he is a law unto himself, in a club that thinks it is above the game.

      The charge against Essendon is that they brought the game into disrepute by being unable to identify what substances were being administered to their players. Essendon virtually admitted as much when they 'owned up' on Feb 5th, and it was then confirmed by the Switkoski Report.

      It is sad to see that so many corporate high flyers can be so deluded based on their passion for a football club. So far, only Robson has taken the honourable way out.

      Don't fool yourself into believing that the players are off the hook either. The AFL is addressing the issue of the club and its' management. ASADA continues to look into the legality of the supplements taken by the players and will conclude its' investigations in its' own sweet time.

      Commenter
      Hanging Chad
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 12:52PM
    • I could not agree more. Essendon's irresponsible actions have wrecked a season and the AFL's reputation. Just think about that for a moment bomber fans. Your club has ruined an entire season of football.

      It's incredible how they blame everyone but themselves. People are sick of this, they need to pay the price. If they aren't severely punished then you can stick a fork in the AFL, because it's a farce. Essendon and their bizarre supporters can feel really happy with themselves as the AFL slides into irrelevance and bankruptcy.

      Maybe they should do everyone a favor and go form their own league where they can play with themselves without disturbing the rest of us.

      Commenter
      nickp
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 1:13PM
    • Blu

      i will correct you. AOD was under the S2 category. S0 does not apply, a drug cannot be under both categories. If it was under S0 then S2 does not apply.

      Commenter
      JordanS88
      Date and time
      August 21, 2013, 1:31PM

More comments

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Former ASADA chairman Richard Ings says the anti-doping body need to publicly clarify their stance on a drug at the centre of the Essendon supplements saga.

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Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
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MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
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STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
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HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
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RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
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GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
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COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
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CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
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NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
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HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
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WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
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RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
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STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
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BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
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CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
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RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
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MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
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COL 59 vs GEE 100 Stats
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NTH 109 vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78 vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50 vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
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CAR 75 vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68 vs WCE 78 Stats
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Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82 vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119 vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155 vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57 vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120 vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135 vs GCF 43 Stats
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WBU 88 vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105 vs COL 100 Report Stats
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Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140 vs CAR 63 Report Stats
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STK 78 vs WCE 131 Report Stats
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GCF 63 vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69 vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115 vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136 vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103 vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43 vs RIC 76 Report Stats
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Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
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MEL vs PTA 14:10TIO Traeger Park
WBU vs GWS 16:35ES
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ADE vs FRE 19:40Adelaide Oval
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COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
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FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
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NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
STK vs HAW 16:40ES
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MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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Round 11
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PTA vs GEE 19:50Adelaide Oval
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GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
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BRI vs ADE 16:35G
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Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
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RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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ESS vs STK 13:10ES
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
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Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
WCE vs ADE 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
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HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
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Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
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GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
COL vs WCE 16:35ES
SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
FRE vs CAR 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
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PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
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ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
BRI vs NTH 19:20G
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU vs COL 13:10ES
MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA vs STK 13:10Adelaide Oval
ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
BRI vs GCF 16:35G
GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
NTH vs STK 14:10BA
PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
BRI vs CAR 19:20G
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
STK vs GEE 19:20ES
ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
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GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK vs SYD 15:20ES
FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
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BRI vs WBU 00:00G
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