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'Nothing to substantiate' tank claims: Demetriou

Andrew Demetriou.

Andrew Demetriou. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has been forced to defend the findings and sanctions issued to the Melbourne Football Club over its "tanking" affair.

Mr Demetriou was not at the press conference on Tuesday, handled by acting football operations manager Gillon McLachlan, where the sanctions and findings were announced. Demetriou said he had given several interviews with reporters since about tanking.

The AFL has come under criticism for allowing Melbourne to retain draft picks and only fining the club fined $500,000, and suspending former general manager of football manager, Chris Connolly and former coach Dean Bailey.

Evidence hinged on a conversation in July 2009 where Connolly allegedly implied to Bailey, in front of others, that it was not in Melbourne's best interests to win too many games that year.

Demetriou said that 58 interviews and an 800-page report had not garnered evidence that players or Bailey had purposely attempted to lose on match day.

Demetriou said Bailey had admitted to feeling pressure to lose games.

"Enormous pressure to act in a way that was incongruous to him. He, in his pre-planning, decided that he would rest players rather than go out and try and deliberately lose a football match. That's what the evidence shows," Demetriou said.

In an interview on radio station, Demetriou was asked how resting players and playing them out of position was not seen as trying to lose the game.

Interviewer Neil Mitchell said: "If you have a six-foot-eight bloke chasing a five-foot-two bloke, he is not going to catch him."

Demetriou replied: "I repeat, there is nothing to substantiate that players and the club were not trying to win that football match. People will speculate, and I understand your point of view, but we can only go on the evidence gathered and presented.

"If there was any more evidence to the contrary – that players had come forward and said they weren't trying to win – [but] that was not the evidence that was gathered, that was not evidence that was produced," Demetriou said.

Demetriou said later that he was not privy to the sanction discussions but rejected the premise of Mitchell's suggestion that Melbourne had not lost draft picks so the club could survive.

"I think that is an unfair proposition," he said.

"I can say this unequivocally, we don't come up with resolutions or decisions based on what may or may not happen to a football club: what financial predicament they are in? What may happen with the draft picks?

"We have proven that with the Carlton Football Club. We deal with what is before us. People shouldn't underestimate that people are entitled to have the benefit of natural justice and have the benefit of an investigation," he said.

Demetriou said the AFL would assist the Liquor and Gaming Commission with its investigation into the Melbourne Football Club, which owns gaming hotels.

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