Sydney chairman Richard Colless has lambasted his Richmond counterpart, Gary March, for the ''appalling'' act of forecasting that the reigning premiers are set to announce a financial loss, and portraying the club's recruitment of Kurt Tippett as tantamount to ''cheating''.
The AFL's longest-serving chairman told Fairfax Media that March committed an inexcusable breach of confidence when he stated in a weekend interview that Sydney is set to finish in the red this year.
Colless said on Wednesday he was ''confident'' the Swans would record an ''acceptable'' profit for the 2012-13 financial year and that the episode underlined what he would not miss about football after more than 21 years in the game when he hands the reins to Andrew Pridham in February.
March will also vacate his presidential post at the end of the season and will be replaced by one of Richmond's board members.
''The fact that a chairman of a club would go on and make comments about a rival club's financial position - unless it was in a constructive way - to me it's just hard to think of anything more appalling to be perfectly honest,'' Colless said.
''I didn't know Gary was still alive. I hadn't seen him for quite some time. He hasn't been to the last few presidents' meetings, but it's amazing what a few wins does to embolden people when they've only got a few weeks of their tenure to go.
''Basically, on the face of it, what Gary's using is confidential information that I just shake my head at. And I think it's little wonder I've had enough of this.''
March, on Saturday, lamented the ''disequalisation'' in the AFL and said there were different rules for Victorian clubs and expansion clubs - he placed Sydney in the latter category.
''When you look at the financials for 2013, and the premiers of the competition are forecasting to make a loss, if any of the Melbourne clubs forecast to make a loss and then went and paid $800,000 to get a player in, we would be getting hauled in front of the [AFL] commission,'' the Tigers boss told SEN radio.
''For me, I think there is a problem with the integrity of the game with the way the expansion teams - and I put Sydney into that - can administer their businesses as opposed to the Victorian clubs.''
Rather than feeling Sydney's administration had the respect of rivals, Colless said he felt it was deliberately - and wrongly - portrayed by other clubs as having achieved largely thanks to AFL subsidies, in particular the cost-of-living allowance that is divided between the Swans' playing list.
''What happened last year is we delisted a lot of players - nearly a million dollars worth of player payments - the AFL increased the TPP [Total Player Payments] and the ASA [Additional Services Agreements], and we had a significant surplus in our cap which we used to do the deal with Kurt Tippett. Isn't this good list management?
''Like all clubs our contracts are lodged with the AFL, so it [March's statement] is tantamount to an accusation of cheating,'' Colless said. ''I'm just sick of the misinformation.
''We've spent the last six months encouraging the AFL to support the less-viable clubs, which wasn't a very fashionable view for the wealthy Victorian clubs, and I don't know if jealousy is the right word, but I haven't been overwhelmed with a sense of goodwill from rival clubs. There's two reasons for this. One is the fact that we were good enough to win a premiership, and the other reason, and the lightning rod, I think, is Tippett.''
Richmond would not to respond to Colless' comments.
Colless, who at the recent meeting of AFL club presidents in Canberra talked all of his counterparts through the Tippett deal, said he even offered to show the contract to Collingwood president Eddie McGuire.
March was not present at the last presidents' meeting and McGuire, Colless said, had not taken up his offer.
''I'm just disillusioned that bottom clubs, who we've gone out of our way to support, no one thanks you, no one acknowledges you,'' Colless said.