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Irony and disaster in Tippett affair

THE letter that has haunted Adelaide chief Steven Trigg and could end his AFL career has now been exposed as secretive, expensive and clearly in breach of the rules of the game.

Trigg finally told his chairman Rob Chapman about the club's three-year-old side deal with Kurt Tippett a week ago. Chapman finally saw the dreaded piece of damaging evidence two days ago courtesy of AFL investigator Brett Clothier.

According to directors on the Adelaide board, none had possessed any knowledge of the deal until Trigg admitted its existence to Chapman immediately after returning home from an overseas holiday.

The AFL asked questions of Adelaide in August 2011 after The Age reported a ''highly unusual'' agreement between Tippett and the Crows. The league was satisfied there was nothing to investigate, but the board knew nothing of the AFL's questions.

As soon as Chapman learnt that the Crows had offered Tippett third-party inducements - inducements it has now been revealed the club promised to underwrite - not to mention trade Tippett to the club of his choice at the end of three years, the senior Westpac adviser insisted they contact AFL chief Andrew Demetriou.

It is not known whether Trigg revealed last Friday to Chapman that the explosive document included a direction not to mention any of this to the AFL.

''What are they doing?'' Demetriou is said to have originally demanded of the Crows. ''How can they have been so stupid?''

Demetriou would have changed his tune as the truth continued to unfold. If the Crows planned to claim ignorance of the AFL rules, as Tippett's manager Peter Blucher has reportedly done, or stupidity, they should think again.

Trigg has not offered to resign, nor has his resignation been sought - yet. But it seems difficult to envisage how he can survive this.

The AFL's auditors will move into the club as early as today, but certainly by Monday. It seems beyond doubt the club will be hurt in the long term by this deal, not only with a fine which should prove at least six figures, but also with draft penalties.

It has not been lost on anyone at either head office or AAMI Stadium that the Crows could simply have paid Tippett the extra $200,000 reportedly mentioned upfront. Staggeringly, they had the room in their salary cap.

Different versions of what took place have also emerged, with Tippett's management insisting Trigg and his former lieutenant John Reid flew to the Gold Coast at the end of 2009 to make the extra offer as a last-ditch attempt to prevent the forward joining the Suns. But Reid has long claimed the letter had been instigated by Blucher and Tippett's father, Tony.

Tony Tippett launched legal proceedings against Adelaide early this week in a bid to move his son to Sydney, while Blucher has received legal advice not to make any comment. He said enough early this month when he admitted to a ''gentleman's agreement'' between Adelaide and the player.

Blucher also oversaw the Scully deal, which young Tom denied for much of the 2011 season but most now believe had already taken place.

Chapman too was refusing to comment yesterday after contacting Adelaide's radio 5AA on Wednesday night in a bid to assure the Crows' members and fans that the club was doing all it could to clear its name.

Chapman reportedly contacted the AFL yesterday and invited or, perhaps more accurately, urged the league's investigators to come to Adelaide and check every file and email in a bid to demonstrate the club's openness and compliance.

Incredibly, it was the unfortunate Swan, Jesse White, who seems to have provoked the final stalemate between the Crows and Sydney. Adelaide did not want White but Sydney seemed determined to offload him.

What is known is that the Crows would have been happy with pick 23 and had the trade taken place on that basis no one would have been any the wiser. Whatever the other legal ramifications, Tippett faces possible deregistration.

The Sydney board met early yesterday and is understood to be satisfied that no one at the Swans was aware of the deal, although the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast certainly were more than aware of its existence, or at least the draft tampering part.

While several clubs have been advised that any trade involving Tippett before today's deadline is unlikely to be approved, Brisbane remains interested in securing his services. That would now almost certainly only happen in the draft, but Gold Coast too could take him with little interest from the Giants.

How ironic it would be if the forward ended up with the Lions, the club which attempted to secure him in the trade period last year and the year before. How much better that result would have been for Adelaide and its long-serving chief executive.


  • I'm surprised that this 'gentleman's agreement' was a surprise. I distinctly remember it being a topic of discussion among 3AW commentators several years ago. The discussion centred around Adelaide being desperate to re-sign Tippett, and they were willing to throw anything at Tippett to prevent him going to Gold Coast. He would only re-sign if he was allowed to move to the club of his choice in exchange for Adelaide getting a second round draft pick when he decided to go.

    If the AFL investigated and found nothing wrong at the time, I’m surprised they find anything wrong now.

    What has changed? Other than the obvious Adelaide salary cap rort, this only seems to now be an issue because of the apparent greed and pressure applied by the Tippetts; and the outcry by other clubs over the so-called ‘living allowance’ that Sydney receives.

    If Tippett was receiving money on the side, I wonder if the ATO will suddenly declare an interest and seek restitution for unpaid taxes if it was undeclared income.

    Date and time
    October 26, 2012, 8:20AM
    • How does this whole affair sit with the culture of the Sydney Swans or any club? Or is this a fevolaesk situation, need the forward, bugger the consequences to the club?

      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 8:34AM
      • The Swans culture is no different to any other. Its all about $$$ and the fact they have more than anyone has just highlighted that they will do anything to get their man by paying more. Hall, Lockett are similar examples
        All clubs want the best players they can get within their salary cap. sydney just have more

        hawker of hobart
        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 10:42AM
      • Hey Hawker, Sydney's also got the flag and the cup!!! Go the mighty Swannies!!!

        Noble Banner
        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 12:56PM
    • I certainly hope that The Crows and Tippett, his manage and his father are punished in line with other judgments handed out to offenders in the past. A message needs to be sent that Players, Managers and Clubs need to adhere to the rules.

      It certainly sounds like all parties involved in the fiasco, were clearly trying to subvert the rules. On that basis, the punishment needs to be strong.

      Keep them honest Caro!

      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 9:01AM
      • I think you will find that his father is outside the AFL's jurisdiction.

        Noble Banner
        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 12:58PM
    • Trigg, Tippett, Blucher should all be sacked/de-registered. Adelaide should be banned from the draft for two or three seasons.

      Date and time
      October 26, 2012, 9:43AM
      • Agreed!

        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 11:16AM
      • 100% correct..

        but sadly "SHOULD BE" and "WILL BE" are so far apart it isnt funny...

        Until the AFL Broadcast Company stands firm and is hardarse on this stuff, it will continue.

        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 11:23AM
      • Carlton only lost their first and second round draft picks for two years (except for their priority pick in 2003 that they were allowed to keep) for systemic cheating involving four of their senior players and an amount of $1.4 million over a period of years, this not being the first time they had been caught cheating.

        Blue Scum
        The Sewer
        Date and time
        October 26, 2012, 1:24PM

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