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Dons rejected penalties

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Full statement: Bombers blast AFL

"I have lost total confidence in the AFL executive," says Bombers chairman Paul Little, accusing them of seeking to "score media headlines and intimidate us".

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EXCLUSIVE

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou.

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou. Photo: Wayne Taylor

The AFL wanted Essendon to accept a series of penalties which included exclusion from the 2013 finals, the loss of draft picks for two years, a fine of more than $2.5million and a suspension of 12 months for coach James Hird.

But the club, incensed by the AFL’s release of highly detailed and personal information in the extraordinarily detailed charges laid against the club on Wednesday, is intent on fighting the penalties of the scale proposed, believing the package excessive, with Hird unwilling to accept a 12-month suspension.

The Dons also have placed a higher premium on draft picks than the finals, believing the loss of first and second-round picks for two seasons would be potentially crippling.

Central to the disagreement over penalties has been Hird’s unwillingness to suffer a penalty that would imply he supported the inadvertent doping of players.

Fairfax Media understands that Essendon, under the leadership of chairman Paul Little, was willing to entertain the possibility of giving ground on missing the finals this year, without accepting that the club had cheated or systematically doped. Essendon was willing to acknowledge – and receive punishments – for its governance failures, but, as Little suggested, will resist a sentence that it believes out of proportion when no doping charges have been proven or infraction notices issued.

Under the penalties discussed by the AFL and Essendon, it understood that the club also faced suspensions for Dr Bruce Reid and football operations chief Danny Corcoran, but that Mark Thompson  was facing only a fine.

The AFL proposed that Essendon lose its first  and second-round draft choices this year and in 2014 – a penalty the club now considers excessive, given that the league also wanted it to miss finals and for three of its four senior staffers to be suspended, with Hird receiving the biggest penalty. Hird would be out of contract when the proposed suspension ceased, having joined the club as senior coach on a four-year deal.

Sources said the penalties offered – and which were being discussed on Tuesday night, before the release of charges against Essendon, Hird, Reid, Corcoran and Thompson – were more detailed, but that the essence of them was loss of draft picks and premiership points, putting them out of this year’s finals and a significant fine.

The Bombers could be under financial pressure as a result of the scandal if members and/or sponsors leave, plus the legal and other costs incurred.

Essendon is incensed that the AFL’s charges detailed private information.

Little, despite his fighting words, has shown a willingness to negotiate with the AFL, but the release of the charges – and particularly the specific nature of allegations – has raised the temperature significantly.

The AFL is braced for a legal response from Essendon, which could challenge the jurisdiction of the AFL Commission. Essendon does not believe the AFL and Andrew Demetriou have followed due processes, with Hird having called for an independent panel to hear his case rather than the AFL’s governing body.

Essendon would be mindful of the catastrophic impact losing draft picks had on Carlton in 2002 when the Blues were punished for cheating the salary cap.

It is believed the AFL has not proposed that Essendon would be prevented from trading back into the draft – via the trading of players – a critical detail. The club would not be restricted from signing free agents either.

133 comments

  • Did essendon ask ASADA if the drug was on the prohibited list or did they ask if the drug was a banned substance? Because they arent the same things in the drug code. A drug can not be on the prohibited list but still be banned.

    Commenter
    Get it over with
    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 9:58PM
    • I think what they are saying is that they sought clarification. The answer that they got is, in layman's terms, that it is not a prohibited substance under s.2 and was SAFE to use. This is also the same information they gave to the ACC. It is only as of 22 April 2013 that the information about s.0 has been added.

      And because of this ruling about safety s.0 does not come into effect.

      It's all really confusing. You have a club admitting the use of AOD. ASADA and WADA saying it is prohibited under s.0. Yet no infraction notices have been lodged and only will if "new information comes to hand". Something is not adding up here.

      As Gerard Whateley said last night ASADA need to come clean on this, The statements it is releasing vs the decisions being made by them are contradicting each other.

      Commenter
      Bucket
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 9:09AM
  • Hird, time to suck it up mate. Take the penalty on the chin, for the good of the game and your club. You are now looking like a prize goose! I will certinaly not be renewing my Bombers membership from now on. This has gone on for to long, and is making us members look stupid.

    Commenter
    Rocket
    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 10:00PM
    • Agree Rocket.

      I am thinknig I will keep my AFL membership (gets me into the Grand Final), but ditch the Essendon Club Support package part.

      I do not want 1 red cent going to the ambulance chasers who are now lining up behind the disgraced coaching staff at Essendon to feed off the flow of money that is coming their way.

      Our club has lost its meaning and directions. I don't give a stuff about brand and image. Where is the single Essendon person in authority who will pull the plug on this and take it on the chin.

      Hirdy, just go now.

      Commenter
      Mozza
      Location
      Highton
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 9:40AM
    • Finally a couple of Essendon supporters who aren't blinded by the crap James Hrid has been dishing up, you two and any other Essendon supporters with this stance should be congratulated.

      The more and more this goes on the more and more James Hird should be charged a second time for bringing the game into disrepute, Hird is no position to make demands on how he will charged or the charges heard, there is no personal vendetta against him from the AFL and last i looked it was te AFL's competition and Demetriou (as much as i dislike him) is the CEO of the AFL and therefore is his job to oversee the displine and charges from any infractions issued to clubs, there is no conflict of interest, they are simply doing their jobs.

      Commenter
      Neddysmith
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:31AM
    • Glad to see that not all Bombers fans are in denial, although many seem to be.

      Commenter
      Steve G
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 10:35AM
    • Hird will get sacked as coach if Essendon keep playing like they have for the last month.

      Doesn't need an ASADA investigation or AFL suspension to do that.(regardless how right or wrong that suspension is)

      Commenter
      Barney
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 11:33AM
  • Jimmy - if your players were injected with AOD 9064 in 2011/2012, then if ASADA gave the wrong answer to a question in 2013, it doesn't matter.

    Why would a player want to be drafted to Essendon, with the current lot in charge? His health is not high on their list of priorities.

    I hope this saga means that all the other clubs avoid getting involved in doping.

    Commenter
    A real footy fan
    Location
    Melburn
    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 10:02PM
    • Because AOD 9604 has been used very very widely.

      Your naive if its just Essendon who thought this might be a good tactic or not to recover from injury.

      I think Essendon would actually be the safest place to work at now for a player.

      Commenter
      Barney
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 22, 2013, 11:36AM
  • Are Essendon serious! I don't believe the AFL CEO has done anything wrong in the whole saga. I'm a big fan of Hird the player but this is ridiculous....at the end of the day, Essendon has done the wrong thing and should pay the penalty. Imagine the outcry if they win the Flag in 2013!!! For the sake of the game they should pay the price. Evidence if correct is surely damming!
    Do the crime...do the time!

    Commenter
    number7
    Date and time
    August 21, 2013, 10:07PM

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