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Manager apologises for blast over ban

Date

Martin Blake, Matt Murnane

Leading player manager Paul Connors has been forced into a public apology after his strident criticism of an ''interfering'' AFL, as the fallout from the Chris Judd suspension swirled yesterday.

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Judd's manager attacks 'unfair' hearing

Paul Connors savages the AFL and media coverage after Chris Judd receives a four-match suspension.

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LEADING player manager Paul Connors has been forced into a public apology after his strident criticism of an ''interfering'' AFL, as the fallout from the Chris Judd suspension swirled yesterday.

After AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson demanded a personal apology along with one for the tribunal and the match review panel, Connors issued a statement saying he withdrew his claims of interference in the case against Judd.

''I've since had contact from Adrian and I accept Adrian's word that he didn't speak with [match review panel chairman] Mark Fraser about the case and didn't direct him in any way. I jumped to incorrect conclusions and stated them as fact.

Adrian Anderson has forced Paul Connors to apologise for his allegations.

Adrian Anderson has forced Paul Connors to apologise for his allegations. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

''I accept that the MRP and the tribunal are independent bodies and I apologise to Adrian for suggesting that he would interfere and to Mark for suggesting that he would allow such interference. I didn't intend to undermine confidence in the MRP and tribunal system and hope I haven't done that.''

But Connors had made his point. An annoyed Anderson held a media conference at AFL House yesterday afternoon to rebut Connors' claims, voiced on morning radio. He said the comments were defamatory and threatened further action if Connors did not withdraw them.

''You can't believe where this stuff comes from,'' said Anderson. ''You shake your head. You feel for the people involved in the process who've been so diligent, and careful and considered, the way they've gone about their job.

''Your Wayne Schimmelbusch, your Wayne Henwood, your Richard Loveridge, Mark Fraser, David Jones, the former judge who oversees the process. Those sort of comments do no justice to the work and effort they put in to making sure we've got a world-class disciplinary system.''

Anderson said he had no influence on the Judd misconduct case being referred directly to the tribunal by the match review panel on Monday. Although Anderson has the power to refer incidents, he said he had not done so.

''I put the faith in these people to make the decisions. I think they should be congratulated for the way they've handled the Judd case under intense scrutiny. I think they've handled it fairly, appropriately, it was a just outcome and a fair hearing.

''I'd also say, by the same token, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Chris Judd's a great champion of the game and he's accepted responsibility for his action, and we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that over a number of years he has been a great champion of the game, and I expect he'll have learnt from this incident.''

Carlton formally announced yesterday that it would not appeal against the four-match suspension of its captain, although the Blues remain hostile about comments made on Monday night by Fraser regarding the case.

Speaking in a video segment on the AFL's website, Fraser said the Judd case was being referred because the match review panel considered his action in tackling North Melbourne's Leigh Adams constituted serious misconduct. He went on to list the AFL's criteria for a serious misconduct charge, which include that the action was ''unsportsmanlike'', and was likely to ''bring the game into disrepute''.

Carlton interpreted this as prejudicial to the tribunal case, and coach Brett Ratten said he anticipated the AFL would look at whether it was appropriate. ''That's up to the AFL to decide whether that is what you do or what you don't do - make the comments before the hearing, or do you just sit back like normal judges and make those calls?'' he said.

But Anderson said Fraser's video segment, which was started in round nine this year, was to provide information to the public about the match review panel process.

''The whole point of this program - and it's been going for weeks now, it's nothing new - is to provide an explanation for the public, what's charged, why, and, for example, with Jack Ziebell being a three-week sanction, that's then affected by his prior record'' Anderson said.

9 comments so far

  • "...we've got a world-class disciplinary system.'' says Anderson

    You either need to resign or change your name to Dwayne with a statement like that.

    Commenter
    Adrian Lmfao
    Date and time
    July 19, 2012, 9:14AM
    • Judd amd his mangement just don't get it, do they? Chris, Paul, you know what guys? You weren' treated unfairly. You dislocated someones shoulder Chris and got 4 weeks, just cop it sweet and stop playing the victims guys, you sound like 5 year olds that have no idea between what is acceptable and what isn't. Physically hurting someone outside of play during a football game attracts sanctions, too bad kids.

      Commenter
      FWOZ
      Location
      Saints
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 9:18AM
      • The all powerful dictatorship of the AFL has spoken. Just because you enforce an apology Anderson doesn't make you right. What Connor's was saying is absolutely right. No member of the AFL hierarchy, Match Review or Tribunal should be speaking about ANY case until it has been heard. I would argue that anyone who believes that comments made before the hearing will not influence the forthcoming decision, is either lying or extremely naive.

        To come out and say that comments about tribunal cases occur regularly and therefore the accusations are baseless, is an appalling defence. The entire process should be reviewed and the AFL hierarchy held accountable for the interference in a system that is apparently "independent".

        Commenter
        Alex
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        July 19, 2012, 9:26AM
        • The Chairman of the Match Review Panel (Fraser) stated purely as a matter of fact the charge that had been made against Judd and the definition of such an offence. Apparently this is a continuing practice that seeks to make the public better informed and might lead to more informed public debate on the matter. I cannot see how anyone could regard this statement of fact as prejudicial. Should the nature of charges be kept secret from the public until after hearings? Would that be in the interest of football followers or keeping the game cleaner of infringements?

          Commenter
          bemused
          Date and time
          July 19, 2012, 9:54AM
      • Judd will go every time now, might even get called for holding the ball after being tackled through 360'. He isn't the pin up boy for the media any more. They've moved onto someone younger and prettier.

        Commenter
        DJ
        Location
        WA
        Date and time
        July 19, 2012, 9:30AM
        • He only apologised because he was threatened with legal action.

          Commenter
          Catherine
          Date and time
          July 19, 2012, 10:07AM
          • A couple of points. First, Connors was clearly facing a defamation suit that he would have lost big time - Anderson would have received at least enough money to built a beautiful new swimming pool. Second, contrary to what Anderson has claimed, Judd has not accepted responsibility for his actions. His defence was that "I didn't mean to do it" when Blind Freddie could see he acted with intent. Finally, why does Anderson think Judd will learn from this episode when he didn't learn a think from all other times he was reported for mongrel acts. Champion he might be (but only because of the talent he was born with) but he certainly not the type of person I would want my son or grandson to emulate.

            Commenter
            Tassie Dee
            Location
            Hobart
            Date and time
            July 19, 2012, 10:51AM
            • Here we go again, the focus is on the tribunals and not the game. I reckon they should NOT televise the games and only televise the tribunal hearings, the TV stations would probably get double the audience. This game is a joke now, well done to the AFL for making it like this so that all we hear about on the news is AFL crap all week.

              Commenter
              PC
              Date and time
              July 19, 2012, 5:40PM
              • Andersons highly patronising comments that he ' expects.. he'll have learnt from the incident' give us an insight into the disproportionate sense of importance that Anderson places on his own views on footy matters. Judd, for all of his flaws, will be remembered as a champion footballer who won multiple Brownlow medals and captained premiership teams.
                Despite Andersons potentially harmful and meddlesome ways his contributions are largely trivial and his standing in footy very poor. He will not be remember at all. He would do himself, and a great many others a service in keeping his mouth shut more often.
                He is making very few friends on his current trajectory.

                Commenter
                Bernie
                Date and time
                July 19, 2012, 6:09PM

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