Crows to face music
Caught out: Adelaide's Kurt Tippett faces deregistration of at least a month next season. Photo: Getty Images
DESPITE the stark revelations about the previously respected Adelaide Football Club revealed in all their damaging detail by The Age in recent days no one has been able to truly answer why two such experienced and trusted men as Steven Trigg and John Reid could commit such a flagrant breach of the AFL rules. And, it seems, believe it not to be the case.
How could Trigg have kept such information regarding a secret Kurt Tippett deal from his board and still feel he has its trust? How could the Adelaide board not have one director who generally has an eye on player contracts?
Given the facts to hand, terms such as ''rookie mistake'' and ''schoolboy error'' and ''naivety under pressure'' surely will not save the Crows now. The club must lose draft picks and receive a heavy fine. Until now the AFL believed the well-spoken Trigg, the former Adelaide media man who jumped to become the club's chief, to be holier than thou - in a good way.
He might have acted harshly and too quickly in sacking Matt Rendell, but perhaps his hand was forced to a degree and certainly Trigg escaped too much heat from that sorry incident. He might have been condescending in claiming Port Adelaide was damaging the code's brand in South Australia, but Port was too powerless at the time to fight back.
Now his reputation has been placed firmly on the chopping block. To be generous, he demonstrated a lack of knowledge and leadership and acted like a desperate man in sanctioning the Reid letter to retain Tippett. But that is being generous.
It is true that player manager Peter Blucher has been targeted by the Crows and other clubs, but his role in all of this is surely mitigated by the fact that he was responsible for one man and that was Tippett.
Trigg was responsible to a board and to a proud football club and its members. He will no doubt claim that the pressure of losing Tippett, loyalty to a battling coach Neil Craig and the combative nature of the Adelaide football community forced him to have a brain fade.
His loyal supporters at the AFL would also say that Trigg was guilty of stupidity but, frankly, given the responsibility of that position he has been guilty of much more, whereas the worst you could say about Blucher is that he has been incompetent.
If Trigg is feeling sick to the stomach about his mistake, then Blucher is struggling in a far more desperate fashion.
Adelaide has rejected the AFL's assertion that it investigated suggestions of draft tampering around the time The Age first reported the elements of the trade deal in 2011. It claims only Blucher was questioned by the AFL. The club is also backing away from accusations of poor governance in that the board had no knowledge of the letter which directed Tippett to potential third-party sponsors in a bid for an extra $200,000 and offered to underwrite that money - an offer at the heart of Adrian Anderson's current investigation.
Reid has reportedly claimed that he was not aware he had induced Tippett to take part in draft tampering. He is claiming his instruction not to share the separate agreement with the AFL was simply because the deal was legally outside the total player payments. It is true that all Tippett's agreements were, in fact, lodged with the AFL, but surely Reid is kidding himself.
And, on the subject of corporate governance, how can that have been the case if the board knew nothing about this letter. Is the executive protecting the directors? That seems unlikely given Rob Chapman's reputation and his insistence his CEO ''fess up'' to the AFL immediately upon learning of the deal.
The same thing happened to Cameron Schwab when Joseph Gutnick was his president in a previous incarnation at Melbourne. Schwab did not survive that particular board, but has gone on to forge a long career as a club chief executive.
Perhaps Trigg, too, will survive this but that seems difficult to imagine right now. He has spoken to his members via an emailed letter asking they stick with the club and insisting it was Adelaide which provoked this investigation. This is a moot point. Had Jesse White not come between a trade to Sydney for Tippett, none of this would have happened and the deal would have been kept secret.
Twenty-one years of good governance could mitigate Adelaide's punishment, particularly given that there is no suggestion of actual salary cap cheating, but when you consider how the AFL has penalised clubs for messy player paperwork, it surely will lose more than its role in the 2012 national draft.
When you consider Brock McLean was almost suspended by the AFL for his unfortunate AIDS-related tweet during the season, then you would have to imagine Tippett is in a lot of trouble too. He faces de registration of at least a month and potentially half-a-season.