ANY pretence that the Australian football industry shuts down from October to April is long since a casualty of media trends, as well as season scheduling. Indeed, the nominal off-season is now arguably one of the more reliable times of year to find AFL executives hanging around somewhere within the national boundaries.
Given that actual matches are off the agenda at this time of year, other topics must be found to keep the ball of footy talk aloft on clouds of helium, and tanking investigations (and the newly minted 2013 AFL draw) are getting the job done.
In an AAP story about tanking, former Melbourne president Paul Gardner weighed in with a few pre-emptive thoughts, of sorts:
''I don't see why the club should be fined for what individuals have committed,'' he reportedly commented. ''I can't see the Tour de France throwing out the US Postal team.''
The rather awkward possibility, which apparently either eluded Mr Gardner, or found him temporarily blinded by the red-and-blue scarf falling over his eyes, is that, if the allegations were proven, the Demons as a whole would have benefited and could arguably continue to benefit, from the misdeeds of yesteryear, something the AFL boffins might prefer not to see happen on their watch.
As for the the US Postal guys, they no longer have all those past Tour de France wins to claim. They've all gone bye-byes now.
What's more, they get no immediately obvious advantage from the alleged scum-sucking perfidy of past team members.
To put it bluntly, possibly both Mr Gardner's analogy and logic are a little on the maison de merde side of things.
AFL Big Chief Honcho Andrew Demetriou left little doubt on the issue, although it was kind of a funny way that he put it:
''We have said the greatest threat that we face going forward is integrity …'' Mr D was quoted as saying in an October 31 report.
Well, yes, that sounds a little odd, but one has to assume both the chief exec and the AFL are in favour of integrity, and that the ''threat'' part would represent a lack of it, rather than too much of it. Well, you'd think.