Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg. Photo: Getty Images
KURT Tippett is facing half a season out of the game after negotiations with the AFL neared completion on the eve of the commission's special hearing into Adelaide's salary cap misdemeanours.
Tippett is understood to have agreed to settle for a substantial suspension for his part in the draft and salary cap breaches that will also lead to Adelaide being removed from the first two rounds of next year's national draft and fined as much as $300,000.
Tippett is expected to be suspended for 10 to 12 home-and-away games as a result of his plea, subject to approval of the proposed punishment by the AFL Commission on Friday. He is also likely to be fined.
Tippett had initially wanted to contest two charges and plead not guilty, but he is understood to have warmed to the idea of acknowledging his guilt and, in doing so, reducing his likely sentence, which might have been longer had he contested the charges.
In addition, he is expected to receive a suspended sentence for a similar period of about half a season.
Adelaide's decision to remove itself from the opening rounds of the 2012 national draft appears to have worked in its favour in terms of a penalty, since the AFL had the power to remove it from three or even four drafts. In effect, the penalty is to miss the opening two rounds of consecutive drafts, given the club's pre-emptive action.
Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg and football manager Phil Harper are also facing suspensions of up to several months.
Adelaide indicated earlier this week that Trigg, Harper and former football boss John Reid would also plead guilty to all charges.
It is unclear whether the Adelaide board will retain the pair and what the AFL's attitude is to them being allowed to remain in their positions.
While the AFL Commission can set its own penalty for the club and its former player, disregarding the recommendations of the league's executive, that is unlikely.
The severity of the penalty, of course, hinges to an extent on where the Crows finish in 2013; if they finish in a lowly ladder position, the loss of an early choice is clearly more punitive, but if they maintain their high ladder spot, it will not be as serious.
Tippett trained at Southport on Wednesday night and, according to observers, looked in good shape. Sydney is still likely to draft him in the December 11 pre-season draft, having offered him a $3.55 million, four-year offer to join the club.
Greater Western Sydney is at long odds to pick him with the first choice in the draft because of his high price tag and the Giants' wish to re-sign their host of highly talented youngsters, including top-three draft picks Jon Patton and Dom Tyson.
The AFL granted Tippett permission to remove himself from Adelaide's list this week and enter the pre-season draft. But he cannot nominate his financial terms until after the penalties have been set.
The commission hearing starts on Friday morning at AFL House and is expected to be concluded within the day, with an announcement of the penalties to follow.
''It's been a really, really long six weeks for everybody,'' Trigg said when he arrived in Melbourne on Thursday before the hearing. ''It's been demanding on the footy club and we're looking forward to tomorrow, to be able to put it behind us.''