Not talking ... Demons CEO Cameron Schwab. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
THE AFL investigation into the Melbourne tanking affair has escalated with several key witnesses coming forward with fresh evidence, including repeated versions of at least one football meeting in 2009, the season in which the club was trying to win no more than four games.
The Age believes Melbourne now faces possible sanctions after league investigators re-interviewed several players and coaches who played a role in the four-point loss in round 18 to Richmond.
It is believed that recently a handful of club personnel have corroborated versions of discussions that took place leading up to some of Melbourne's strange losses that year - culminating in the Richmond loss, which saw Melbourne fans cheering when Tiger Jordan McMahon goaled after the siren.
Club president Don McLardy and his chief executive Cameron Schwab - both of whom also held leadership positions in 2009 - did not return calls from The Age last night. Among those re-interviewed by AFL investigator Brent Clothier were then senior coach Dean Bailey and all his assistants, former captain James McDonald and several teammates.
Football operations manager Adrian Anderson has come under pressure after the fresh tanking allegations, given his keen attention in other areas of the game to preserve its integrity.
Anderson said this month he understood the cynicism from AFL fans and the media but this was misplaced. ''It will take as long as it takes to do a thorough and proper job,'' he said.
The late Melbourne president Jim Stynes, in his book released several months ago, said of the affair: ''Melbourne never sat down our coach, Dean Bailey, and instructed him not to win games. But he, I and everybody at the club knew what an important bearing on the club's future that extra draft pick might have.''
Former player Brock McLean - whose comments prompted the probe - told Fox Footy's On the Couch that tanking prompted him to leave the club. ''Definitely,'' responded McLean, when asked whether his club's priority was not winning in 2009, ''and I think you would have to be blind Freddy to not figure that one out.''
McLean is on leave but has been re-interviewed by the AFL. In 2011, an earlier investigation by the league found the Demons had no case to answer for their actions during Bailey's tenure.
Anderson re-opened the investigation after Bailey, at his farewell press conference after being sacked, came close to admitting he had tanked.
AFL supremo Andrew Demetriou has consistently defended the Demons.