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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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AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE ($2.05)vs WCE ($1.80) 13:10Adelaide Oval
STK ($4.50)vs SYD ($1.22) 15:20ES
FRE ($1.08)vs MEL ($8.50) 16:40Domain Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC vs NTH 19:50ES
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE ($2.00)vs ADE ($1.75) 13:05SS
BRI ($4.60)vs WBU ($1.18) 13:45G
PTA ($1.75)vs FRE ($2.00) 15:50Adelaide Oval
HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($15.00) 16:40MCG
SYD ($1.07)vs GCF ($7.50) 19:20SCG
WCE ($1.11)vs STK ($6.25) 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL vs GWS 13:10ES
COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
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AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 20 16 4 0 122.19 64
West Coast Eagles 20 15 4 1 150.85 62
Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
Sydney Swans 20 14 6 0 118.16 56
Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
Adelaide Crows 19 12 7 0 116.41 50
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