Crows' 'tamper' affair
''Understanding'' with the Crows: Kurt Tippett. Photo: Paul Rovere
UPDATE: The AFL has tweeted the following in response to this article:
"AFL has recently become aware of a matter regarding contracting of Kurt Tippett to Adelaide Crows in 2009, to cover the 2010 – 2012 seasons.
"AFL is still investigating how Tippett contract relates to operation of AFL Player Rules. There is no further update to provide at this time."
ADELAIDE has confessed to the AFL that it struck a secret arrangement to send Kurt Tippett to the club of his choice when it last re-signed him, a deal that could amount to draft tampering and see the club face major sanctions.
The Crows are understood to have gone to the AFL late last week with written documentation confirming that they had agreed to trade Tippett for a second-round choice, an ''understanding'' not disclosed in the contract he signed at the end of 2009. Under AFL rules, Tippett could potentially be banned from playing for being party to such an agreement, while clubs found guilty of draft tampering or salary cap breaches can face draft penalties for up to four years. The Crows are, at a minimum, facing heavy scrutiny for entering into an undisclosed agreement with their star forward.
Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg is understood to have gone to the AFL after returning from a trip to Europe last week, with the Crows seeking clarification on the legalities of the so-called ''gentlemen's agreement''.
The agreement was not a part of Tippett's official contract with Adelaide - a three-year extension that expired this year - which was approved by the AFL at the time.
Had such a clause been included in his contract, it would not have got past Ken Wood, the AFL's manager of Total Player Payment Assurance & Advice.
Wood must also approve every individual trade deal, and will not do so unless a deal represents clear commercial value for both sides.
It is understood that the league had already become suspicious at talk Tippett could be traded for the Swans' first-round draft pick, No. 23, and out-of-favour forward Jesse White last week.
The Crows believed that their agreement with Tippett, which The Age understands was documented in a note, was to send Tippett to a club in his home state of Queensland, even though no clubs were specified at the time.
Tippett quit Adelaide after kicking four goals in the club's preliminary final loss to Hawthorn, having played 104 games in six years at the club. It was expected he would request a trade to Gold Coast or the Brisbane Lions, but he stunned the Crows by asking to join Sydney.
The Swans and Crows had been making extremely slow progress in trade talks, and the Crows' decision to come forward now casts into doubt the 24-year-old's ability to reach the Swans. Sydney could argue that anything it gives Adelaide in a trade is commercially viable, given that the key forward could walk to the pre-season draft, leaving the Crows with no compensation. But Adelaide's potential breach of AFL rules would render that scenario irrelevant.
Tippett's manager, Peter Blucher, told The Age earlier this month that ''there is an understanding between the parties, they would help get him to the club of his choice'', while recognising that any arrangements would need to be ''commercial''.
Adelaide last night did not return calls over Tippett. The AFL declined to comment.
Carlton was the last club to be hit with draft penalties, after committing persistent salary cap breaches.
The Blues were stripped of picks one and two in the national draft, disqualified from the first two rounds of the 2003 draft and fined $930,000 as part of their hefty punishment.