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Swans chief now turns on Geelong

Back on the attack: Sydney Swans chairman Richard Colless.

Back on the attack: Sydney Swans chairman Richard Colless. Photo: Steve Christo

The simmering feud between the Sydney and Melbourne AFL clubs has shown no signs of abating, with Swans chairman Richard Colless back in attack mode over a call for an AFL investigation into his club's total player payments.

And Colless has disputed the version of events put forward by Carlton president Stephen Kernahan, stating that Colless had apologised following his stinging attack on the Blues.

With the AFL presidents' meeting on March 20 looming as a potentially politically divisive affair, Colless - the longest-serving club chairman in the AFL - said he remained ''bitterly disappointed'' at the lack of ''esprit de corps'' among club chiefs.

Turning his attention to former AFL commissioner and now Geelong president Colin Carter, Colless said: ''Never in the history of the game has a premiership club retained so many great players as Geelong.

''I'd love Colin to tell me how it's done. Probably the best person to ask about how you keep a squad together is Colin Carter. To use terms like 'looking at the books' implies something sinister and coming from a man of Colin's standing … well it's more than mischievous.

''And, as for Stephen Kernahan, who I dearly admire and have always got on well with, he is only telling half the story. My apology came as a result of his abject apology to me. He was very disappointed in Greg Swann's comments about our club, had made that clear to Greg and told me he regretted them. In that spirit, I was happy to apologise as well.''

Greater Western Sydney chairman Tony Shepherd, who also reportedly apologised for his subtle swipe at Carlton's history with salary cap issues, was also a little perplexed at Kernahan's version of their conversation.

With AFL boss Andrew Demetriou acutely aware of the bad blood flowing between various club blocs as the equalisation debate continues to divide them, Colless said the public swipes directed at Sydney, linking the Kurt Tippett recruitment with the club's 9.8 per cent cost-of-living allowance, had him lamenting the current culture among clubs.

''We will abide by the umpire's decision where the allowance is concerned,'' Colless said. ''We welcome the review but it's just so disappointing - staggering - that no one has bothered to pick up the phone and talk to their counterparts.

''Never in the history of the game have I seen a time where people have been so public in questioning other clubs' affairs. I could point out to them that our club in recent years has lost Michael O'Loughlin and Barry Hall and Darren Jolly and we have been very strategic in the players we have recruited.''

Sydney chief executive Andrew Ireland has remained adamant that every player on Sydney's list receives the additional 9.8 per cent and that all the club's player contracts were closely audited by the AFL.

Carter said on Tuesday: ''The Kurt Tippett thing bothers me. If they had $800,000 there for Kurt Tippett because they managed their salary cap well and had one, two or three highly paid players leave, then that is good management. But if they had $800,000 there because they have not been paying their other players that allowance, then that is wrong.

''I think [Colless] is wrong to say clubs are not entitled to ask the question or for the books to be looked at by the AFL.''

47 comments

  • Carter is right to pose these questions of Sydney - in that the cost of living allowance needs to be spread across the whole list and not used to lure one marquee player. Geelong has already lost arguably its best player, in part because of salary cap issues and the list has been kept together on goodwill and unity of the playing group. Colless' mindless defensiveness about how Sydney can afford Tippett only heightens suspicions - especially when there is a "cost of living" allowance involved. His club's integrity has only been tarnished by its pursuit of Tippett in the first place.

    Commenter
    Paul
    Date and time
    March 06, 2013, 8:22AM
    • Assume you mean Gary Ablett. He didn't leave because of salary cap issues, he left to feather his own salary nest!

      Commenter
      Catherine
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 8:50AM
    • "Colless' mindless defensiveness.."
      Mindless? It's simple arithmetic, Sydney will either be within the salary cap or above it. They either have room for Tippet or they don't. And after last year, I'm sure the AFL know exactly where Sydney stand.

      "...club's integrity has only been tarnished by its pursuit of Tippett in the first place."
      But why? Brisbane Lions and any other clubs looking at Tippet, were they risking being ''tarnished'?

      Now, whether or not Sydney deserve the current level of COL allowance is another argument.

      Commenter
      Decca
      Location
      MEL
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 9:42AM
    • Paul the Cost of Living allowance is spread over the whole list and is audited by the AFL each year to make sure it is. You guys in Melbourne have a persecution complex every time an interstate club wins a premiership or is able to pick up a marquee player. you go ballistic! We have the money to pick up Tippett because we have managed our list very well and we have one of the youngest lists in the AFL due to retirements or the moving on of other Marquee or top players i recent years.

      Commenter
      A. Pincombe
      Location
      Lilyfield
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 10:32AM
    • Guys it's a moot point.....the allowance will stay and as everyone states as long as it's spread amongst the 42 players.

      As for Geelong being able to keep their 'list together' Mr Colless.

      Here is the list to date we have lost due to not being able to accommodate all . Shane Mumford 3 year deal to Swans we couldn't match -Scott Thompson ( kangaroos), Brent Maloney, Jeremy Laidler, Andrew Carazzo, Gary Ablett ( doubled his offer - feather his nest who wouldn't?) Brent Prismall, Charlie Gardiner, Nathan Djkerra, Henry Playfair, Tim Callan, Steven King... most left for opportunity and financial gain!

      So Mr Colless any of these guys get a game in your squad - few decent players 'lost' due to salary cap pressures.

      Every successful Club will lose players south of the Border - we are seeing it each year. Hawthorn and Collingwood will be next.

      Equalization? Footscray are after Socialism spread the money around. One thing is for sure the Cap will be tested and shortly!

      Commenter
      CraiggyBoy
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 11:03AM
    • @A. Pincombe,

      the point is that the salary restrictions that come with a Premiership generally keep a club from picking up "marquee players".

      When Geelong won in 2007, its key champion players (including Ablett) all agreed to take a significant cut in salary to enable them to stay together. If they hadn't done so, Geelong would have lost more than one of those players to other clubs. They certainly were not in a position to splash the sort of money that Sydney used to lure Tippett.

      The AFL has made a tradition of financially penalising premiership winning clubs through the salary cap, but in this instance it appears that the opposite has happened. That is why questions are being asked.

      Commenter
      blu
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 11:10AM
    • A. Pincombe, if the COL allowance was audited each year by the AFL, then the response to the comments would be, "Our books are already reviewed by the AFL for compliance with the COL allowance." However a defensive response was given and then an attack on Geelong that it is amazing how they kept their team together through their premiership years. Which is interesting, as I count about 4 players they lost. From Gary Ablett, the best player in the league, to lower level players like Brent Prismall.

      But Colless doesn't seem to let the truth get in the way of his stories. Just like how it is 9.8% added after contracts are agreed, a ridiculous claim not backed up by the realities of contract negotiation.

      Commenter
      Nick
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 11:39AM
    • The AFL also removed any benefit in salary cap space from Adelaide and Brisbane through their successful periods. Sydney has won 2 premierships since 2005 and has made finals consistently yet havent been ear marked as successful.
      I can appreciate higher cost of living as an argument for a slightly higher cap however they've shot themselves in the foot by signing a player on a huge contract who can only play for half the year. Doesn't seem fair at all. They are just laughing at everyone as they continue to argue higher cost of living yet sign players for $800K a year they clearly dont need.

      Commenter
      PeeRod
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 11:57AM
    • Of course Gazza left because of salary cap issues. He got more money to play at the Suns and good luck to him. If he did not go, Geelong would have have lost another high profile player to either the Suns or GWS. Who would have that been Bartel, Selwood, Hawkins, Taylor, Steve Johnson ??? Either one would have been just a big a loss as Gazza. With Gazza gone more money was available to pay the others a bit more.

      Commenter
      The WA Cat
      Location
      Albany
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 12:13PM
    • Gee Craigyboy!

      Most of the players you mention left because they were delisted or seen as second string. They were not considered good enough for your fine team. By the way Prismall went with the coach. Why don't we list those that stayed: Kelly, Bartel, Byrnes, Chapman, Hawkins, Johnson, Menzel (retired), Milburn (retired), Motlop, Ottens (retired), Pods, Rooke (until retirement), Scarlett (retired), Selwood, Stokes, Taylor, Vardy, Wojcinski, Varcoe, Enright, Harley (retired), Mooney, Ling, Corey. I probably have left out a few but all these players made up the basis of your premiership teams. Add Ablett and it puzzles me how you had the cap to keep all these players?

      Commenter
      A. Pincombe
      Location
      Lilyfield
      Date and time
      March 06, 2013, 3:49PM

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