THE AFL investigation into alleged draft tampering by Adelaide has been broadened to include accusations of salary cap cheating. The league is examining emailed correspondence between former Crows football manager John Reid and Peter Blucher, Kurt Tippett's manager, following the forward's decision to re-sign at the end of 2009.
The email is believed to refer to an agreement that Adelaide would trade Tippett to the club of his choice for a second-round draft pick at the conclusion of the three-year contract, as well as an additional payment.
Neither the payment nor the trade deal were disclosed in Tippett's contract, which was approved by the AFL at the time, leaving the Crows facing major sanctions for both the agreement to trade him, and the possible salary cap breach.
The immediate future of Tippett was in limbo last night, following Adelaide's decision to take written evidence of the agreement to trade him cheaply to the AFL on Friday, seeking clarification on its legality.
It is understood the Crows came forward after receiving correspondence from lawyers acting for Tippett late last week, threatening to take the matter to the Supreme Court if the agreement was not adhered to and he was not traded to his club of choice, Sydney.
The investigation, which will not delay the end of the month-long trade period tomorrow, could have implications for many people at Adelaide, as well as for the former forward they were desperate to retain and his management company, Velocity Sports.
Tippett’s move to Sydney this week has become problematic and if found complicit in any illegal deals he could face a suspension, fine or at worst, be deregistered and forced into the draft.
Adelaide — which this time last year knocked back Brisbane’s offer of a first and second-round draft pick for Tippett, backing itself to retain him beyond this season — could be punished for draft tampering, having agreed to influence a future trade period.
Kurt Tippett. Photo: Getty Images
The Crows had believed that if Tippett sought a trade to any club, it would be either the Suns or Brisbane, given he had expressed a desire to move home to Queensland at some stage. He shocked Adelaide, where he was the highest-paid player, by accepting a $4million, four-year offer from the Swans instead.
The AFL must approve each individual trade deal and will not do so unless it represents commercial value for all parties. Suspicions were raised late last week after speculation that Tippett could be swapped for Sydney’s first pick, No.23, and fringe player Jesse White.
The league yesterday confirmed an Age report that it was investigating ‘‘a matter regarding the contracting of player Kurt Tippett to the Adelaide Crows in 2009, to cover the 2010-2012 AFL seasons’’ and whether it adhered to AFL rules.
The Crows said: ‘‘The process began when the Adelaide Football Club notified the AFL of its concern relating to the matter and submitted relevant information to the League. The club welcomes the investigation and continues to assist the AFL with its inquiries.’’
When he re-signed three years ago, Tippett signed a standard player contract, which includes the words: ‘‘This contract contains all of the terms of the agreement between the parties.’’
He also, like all players, signed a statutory declaration form. It states: "Neither I nor any associate of the player has directly or indirectly received or had applied any payment, consideration, advantage or other benefit not referred to in the contract, the arrangement or the detail of other payments attached to this statutory declaration."
The Crows have consistently denied that there was a clause in Tippett’s contract stating it would trade him cheaply to the club of his choice.
The AFL would not comment last night, but confirmed that the trade period would end at 2pm tomorrow.