Dean Bailey 'felt pressured' over selection decisions
AFL tanking inquiry finds Melbourne coach felt pressure "to appease" ex-Melbourne FC football operations manager Chris Connolly over positional selections and decisions to rest players.PT0M42S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ep5s 620 349 February 19, 2013
DEAN Bailey confessed to one of three charges levelled against him in the AFL's tanking probe of Melbourne in the hope of avoiding a longer suspension or even a permanent ban from the game.
Bailey, now an assistant coach with Adelaide, has been suspended for the opening 16 rounds of the season for conduct prejudicial to the interests of the AFL while coaching the Demons in 2009.
Bailey faced three charges - of conduct prejudicial to the interests of the league, tampering with the national draft and of not coaching to his utmost.
Dean Bailey will miss most of season 2013. Photo: Getty Images
But he insisted to league investigators that he had only maintained the Demons' developmental ethos in a year when the club won only four matches and qualified for what it thought would be a prized priority pick. The Demons had even made it clear they were working on ''long-term interests'' in their 2008 annual report.
''Obviously Dean is disappointed, but the Adelaide Football Club has undertaken to support him,'' Bailey's lawyer Chris Pollard, of Russell Kennedy, said on Tuesday.
Former football manager Chris Connolly, who still works at the club, has been suspended for 11 months under the same charge as Bailey, pertaining to his comments in the now infamous ''Vault'' meeting at the Junction Oval on the Monday after an 11-point win in the round-15 game over Port Adelaide.
Various accounts of what Connolly said or implied in the room of 15 football operations staff were reported in witness statements in the AFL's 800-page investigative document, although most reported they felt he did not want the Demons to win another game.
That victory over the Power, the Demons' third of the season, meant they were dangerously close to losing the priority pick because, under the laws at the time, teams could win no more than four games to secure the extra selection.
Fairfax Media has been told there were allegations that only two names appeared on the whiteboard in the room during that meeting - Tom Scully, now with Greater Western Sydney, and current co-captain Jack Trengove. The Demons would draft the pair months later, having qualified for the top two picks in the draft by winning only four games.
Acting AFL operations manager Gillon McLachlan said Connolly's comments had been ''prejudicial to the interests of the AFL''.
Bailey had then worked in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the AFL by acting on Connolly's comments, in terms of selection and the resting of players, but not on game day when he coached to win.
McLachlan also confirmed on Tuesday the Demons were fined $500,000 despite declaring the club had not deliberately set out to lose matches. Demons chief executive Cameron Schwab escaped sanction.
Lawyers for the Melbourne Football Club said the AFL had struck a ''balanced conclusion''.
''What this boils down to is, Connolly has one conversation which a lot of people have different accounts of, while there is no equivalence with Schwab. There is no evidence,'' one lawyer said. ''The board had nothing to do with it.''
Bailey will not act as an assistant coach during his suspension but will remain in a paid role with the Crows.
He was also mindful of what impact the controversy would have on the Crows should he pursue the case, while the cost was also an issue.
He had considered fronting the AFL Commission in a bid to clear his name but, in conjunction with Pollard, opted to confess to the charge of bringing the game into disrepute.
Had he appeared before AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and his Commission, Bailey feared he risked greater punishment.
''Due to the findings of the AFL investigation and the AFL Commission, Dean, importantly, has been found not guilty to the allegation of not coaching to his merits or tampering with the draft,'' Pollard said.