Slicing the pie: Kurt Tippett in his guise as a Balfours Bakery ambassador on YouTube. Photo: Supplied
ADELAIDE entered into a secret agreement with one of its sponsors to divert payments to Kurt Tippett after the player knocked back an offer to join the Gold Coast.
As further damning evidence emerged in the Crows' salary-cap scandal, the club's football boss, Phil Harper, has been charged by the AFL after a letter signed by Harper was unearthed by the league's investigators.
The written evidence of the alleged under-the-table third-party agreement with the South Australian bakery Balfours has also implicated Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg.
Fairfax Media understands Trigg authorised the diverted five-figure annual payment without the knowledge of his board.
With Trigg's AFL future already hanging in the balance, he faces a third charge of breaching AFL rules - in this instance the breach is his second charge relating to total player payments impropriety.
Although the Balfours deal was lodged with the AFL, the diverted written agreement was not.
The letter instructed Balfours, which each year paid the Crows an annual sponsorship sum of between $150,000 and $200,000, to reduce those sponsorship payments by about $30,000 and instead pay them to Tippett, who would assume the role of a Balfours ambassador.
Fairfax Media has learnt that Tippett earned the third-party payments during the 2010 and 2011 seasons and during that time hosted a ''Tippett's Tips'' segment in which - dressed in an apron and chef's hat - he performed in a kitchen segment before tucking into a Balfours pie.
The agreement appears to have been a clear contravention of the AFL's salary cap rules and appears to have taken chairman Rob Chapman and his board by surprise. Clubs are forbidden from having any association with players' third-party agreements.
The fresh charges on Wednesday prompted a series of urgent meetings involving Adelaide officials, directors and their lawyers. The Crows' defence is being led by David Edwardson, QC.
And further damning allegations have emerged over the timing of a rewritten letter, which was originally sent by former football boss John Reid to Tippett and his manager Peter Blucher in October 2009.
The letters, both revealed by Fairfax Media, were dated October 2009. In its original form the letter suggested a secret trade deal, third-party payments worth $200,000 and an instruction to the player not to lodge the letter with the AFL.
It sparked the investigation and subsequent multiple charges laid against Adelaide, past and present officials, and Tippett.
The board had believed the second letter - which was rewritten to eliminate damning evidence of suggested salary-cap breaches - was re-sent soon after the first version.
But allegations emerged on Wednesday that the rewritten letter was forwarded to the Tippett camp towards the end of the 2012 season - almost three years after the original version. The letter was still signed by Reid but is understood to have been sent by current Crows officials in a bid to cover the club's tracks.
Trigg is understood to have told
the club's lawyers it was his belief that the Reid letter was a private agreement between the Crows and Blucher, was not part of a contract and would not necessarily be honoured.
Adelaide has also been charged on a third count under Rule 17, which relates to draft and total player payment rules. The club's board, Tippett, Trigg, Harper and Reid have all been summoned to appear before the AFL Commission on Monday.
The club raised eyebrows across the AFL community when it stated on Monday that it was being investigated by the AFL as a direct result of its decision to come forward and admit the Tippett agreement and offer full assistance to the investigation.
The club's statement went on: ''Throughout the past three years and the recent trading period it was always the club's intention to comply fully with all AFL rules on the draft and player payments.
''The club draws attention to its exemplary record and reputation of total and willing compliance with all AFL rules that govern the draft and total player payments over the past 22 years. We have the highest regard for those rules and the reason that they exist.''
Tippett, who faces a lengthy period on the sidelines should the commission deregister him, remains hopeful of joining Sydney.
The Swans have indicated they would not be put off drafting Tippett should he be forced to sit out the game for a lengthy period.
The 25-year-old plans to vigorously defend the two charges against him through his lawyer David Galbally, QC, and intends to call Blucher as a key witness.
The commission hearing is looming as a bitter exchange of evidence involving Tippett and his former club, which faces heavy fines and draft bans.