MELBOURNE Football Club's selection policy, including its use of prized draft pick Jack Watts, has been heavily scrutinised by AFL investigators as part of its report into the Demons' alleged tanking in 2009.
Watts, the No. 1 selection in the 2008 national draft, has found himself drawn into the controversy as part of the 800-page AFL report and about 60 witness statements which primarily focus on former coach Dean Bailey, chief executive Cameron Schwab and former general manager of football Chris Connolly.
Watts played only three matches in his first season, making his debut against Collingwood in the round-11 Queen's Birthday blockbuster. He was physically targeted by the Magpies. He would play in only the next two matches, against Essendon and the Brisbane Lions, before returning to the VFL.
AFL investigators Brett Clothier and Abraham Haddad have questioned why he was not given more time in the seniors, in a year the Demons would win only four matches and successfully claim what they thought would be a coveted priority pick.
The Demons argue Watts was not yet ready for a sustained run at the elite level, was still playing school football and had exams to complete. He did not even train full-time with the Demons and his season ended six weeks prematurely due to a chipped thumb. The Demons' selection and injury policy through this now tumultuous season has been questioned, with Haddad and Clothier making it clear during their interview process what the ramifications would be for those who did not co-operate.
Questions have also been asked why certain players were left out of the team.
One well-publicised loss was to Sydney in round 17 at Manuka Oval. The Demons made five changes at selection, and two more on match day when James Frawley withdrew because of an injured back and Neville Jetta had the flu.
Adam Paulo, the club's assistant fitness coach in 2009 who left after last season, former fitness boss Joel Hocking, now at Carlton, and then football operations manager Craig Notman have been questioned about strategic decisions, with interviews sometimes taking an emotional toll.
Connolly, Schwab and Bailey have denied any wrongdoing.
The hours and days after the 11-point win over Port Adelaide in round 15 are also heavily scrutinised in the documents.
The Demons had just won their third game of the season. Under the priority-draft pick laws at the time, teams could win no more than four games to secure the extra selection.
There are claims Schwab appeared disappointed immediately after the win, and met with coach Bailey and his assistants behind closed doors.
What was said in there has also been a source of debate. The now infamous ''vault'' meeting at the Junction Oval was held days after this win.
As revealed by Fairfax Media in November, one version of events is that Connolly surveyed the room of some 15 men - coach Bailey, his assistants, recruiters and other football staff - and told them that the consequences of missing the priority pick would be that they would all lose their jobs.
There are also claims he warned everyone, perhaps in a joking manner, ''the Zulus will come and get you'' if the Demons did not stay the course.
This meeting has been mentioned in many of the witness statements provided to the AFL.
Through a Melbourne spokesman, Connolly and Schwab have not wished to comment.
The AFL's handling of the five-month investigation has also been questioned by lawyers, who feel there was not enough scrutiny on Haddad and Clothier by senior AFL figures.
The conduct of the investigation and the line of questioning is expected to be brought up at the hearing.
Bailey, Schwab and Connolly have yet to be charged. They have until January 29 to respond to the AFL and prove why they should not be charged.
Bailey is facing three allegations: bringing the game into disrepute, tampering with the national draft, and not coaching to his utmost in 2009. Schwab, Connolly and the Demons' board are facing charges of bringing the game into disrepute and tampering with the draft.