New revelations: Kurt Tippett. Photo: Paul Rovere
A SECOND incriminating letter has emerged in the Kurt Tippett saga, which indicates that Crows officials attempted to cover their tracks after putting in writing a potentially unlawful agreement with the player.
While Tippett's lawyer, David Galbally, has confirmed the 25-year-old would vehemently contest both charges that have been laid against him by the AFL, Fairfax Media has confirmed that Adelaide rewrote the original and until recently secret deal with Tippett.
Tippett's manager, Peter Blucher, who is still representing the player, will be called to give evidence in a bid to demonstrate that Tippett had no knowledge he was breaking AFL rules in agreeing to an Adelaide side offer, which has led to the club, Tippett and two Crows officials being charged with draft-tampering and salary-cap breaches.
The damaging second letter was dated October 2009, was identical to the first and included almost identical wording to the first, but omitted the sentences relating to third-party payments totalling $200,000. It also left out the damaging instruction to Tippett not to show the letter to the AFL.
Like the first hidden contract, it was signed by former Adelaide football boss John Reid under the letterhead of the Adelaide Football Club. The Crows' board only recently learnt of the letter's existence and has been told it was sent to Tippett and Blucher several days after the first letter. Reid has given the board and Adelaide's lawyers an explanation for the second and amended letter but the club last night refused to detail that explanation.
Next week's AFL Commission hearing is looming as a bitter dispute to be fought out between the Tippett camp and Adelaide.
Blucher is understood to have evidence that the original document, which could lead to the club being banned for up to four national drafts and heavily fined, was engineered by the Crows and not - as Adelaide officials have claimed - by Tippett's father, Tony, and Blucher.
It has also been alleged that Adelaide, in its attempt to re-sign Tippett, this year assured the player that it would not stand in his way when he became a restricted free agent at the end of 2014.
As well as offering Tippett a lucrative deal to remain at the club, the Crows are understood to have told Tippett they would not match the offer of a rival club in two years if he wished to leave. Fairfax Media could not confirm whether the offer was made in writing.
Although Tippett faces deregistration for his role in the affair, the player is expected to demonstrate he had no knowledge of the rules he was breaking in entering into the agreement, which promised him a move to the club of his choice in exchange for a second-round draft pick and also lucrative third-party inducements.
It has also emerged that the player has refused to meet officials from Greater Western Sydney as the hearing looms and remains hopeful of joining Sydney - a hope that is mutual.
While the Giants have delisted veteran ruckman Dean Brogan in a public bid to fit Tippett onto their list, there is a strong expectation Brogan will be redrafted should Tippett finish up at Sydney.
Crows chief executive Steven Trigg has insisted he was looking forward to giving his side of the story to next week's commission hearing, but speculation continued that he could become the first club chief stood down for rule breaches.
Trigg and his former football lieutenant Reid are the first officials to be individually charged by the AFL for breaches of the total player payments. While Reid no longer works professionally in the industry and could refuse to appear before the commission, club chairman Rob Chapman confirmed last night that the former football boss was preparing to give evidence on behalf of the club.
No Carlton official was charged when that club was found to have systematically and deliberately committed salary cap breaches at the end of 2002. At least one player, Fraser Brown, who had retired, withdrew his evidence and refused to co-operate with the AFL.
The AFL then reasoned that most officials responsible had left the club and president John Elliott, who the league believed was an instigator, had been ousted, later had his name removed from a stand at Princes Park and was uninvited to several official AFL functions. Elliott's life membership was never revoked.
In Adelaide's case, the AFL seems satisfied the board had no knowledge of the secret Tippett deal, which was undertaken by Reid and Trigg.
■Richard Tambling's spot on the Adelaide list is safe, but one of Kurt Tippett's contracted former teammates will be cut, following his decision to nominate for the pre-season draft.
The Crows were due to discuss the uncomfortable decision at a meeting on Tuesday night, with its list fully contracted for next year and the unfortunate player now set to endure the stress of next week's national draft. Adelaide will redraft the player, but should the club be removed from the first few rounds of the national draft, as expected, then there is a chance he will be chosen by another team before it re-enters with late picks.
The Crows cannot afford to risk trying to redraft the player in next month's pre-season draft - once Tippett has delisted himself - given the club is highly likely to be expelled from it at next week's AFL Commission hearing.
It is understood that Tambling, the subject of most speculation after playing just one senior game in 2012, has been assured he is safe, leaving such youngsters as Mitch Grigg, Nick Joyce and Cam Ellis-Yolmen vulnerable.
The Crows would not have chosen to delist any other player by Thursday's second list lodgement, but Tippett's decision to nominate for the pre-season draft means he will still be on the club's list for next week's national draft. Adelaide had hoped to receive permission to delist Tippett but has been told by the AFL that this is not allowable until the hearing.
With EMMA QUAYLE