AFL player agent Liam Pickering's conduct 'appalling', court told

AFL player agent Liam Pickering's conduct 'appalling', court told

The conduct of a player agent representing many of the highest profile AFL players in the game had been "appalling", a court has heard.

Barrister David Denton.QC, told the Supreme Court that Liam Pickering had grossly departed from his duties when working for Strategic Management Australia AFL (SMAFL) before resigning and starting up a new agency.

AFL player agent Liam Pickering.

AFL player agent Liam Pickering.

Photo: Paul Rovere

Mr Denton, representing SMAFL owner Jason Sourasis, urged Justice Michael Sifris to find Pickering and his offsider, James Pitcher, had deliberately flouted AFL Players Association regulations as "their conduct was just appalling".

Sourasis is suing Pickering and Pitcher for damages over alleged lost commissions and endorsement payments after a total of 31 players and coaches terminated their contracts with SMAFL and signed up with the pair's rival management company, Precision Sports and Entertainment Group, in May 2014.

Pickering and Pitcher had joined SMAFL in September 2012 but resigned on May 1, 2014.


The clients who left to go to Precision included Lance Franklin, Gary Ablett, Jack Riewoldt, Dane Swan and Sydney Swans coach John Longmire. Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury stayed with SMAFL.

Agents for AFL players and coaches usually receive between two to four per cent of a client's contract with a particular club, as well as a 20 per cent cut from any endorsement deals organised for clients.

Sourasis had initially sued Pickering and Pitcher for $2.5 million in damages but this has now been reduced to $625,000.

Pickering is counter-suing Sourasis, alleging he engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and misappropriated funds.

During the bitter civil trial, Mr Denton claimed Pickering and Pitcher should be struck off as AFL player agents because of their conduct.

He said player agents had to have representation agreements in place with players before negotiating new contracts for them with clubs, but the pair had failed to do this.

Mr Denton claimed Pickering and Pitcher were working for SMAFL in late 2013 when they organised for players to sign new contracts but made sure their clients did not sign representation agreements until after May 1, 2014.

In his final submissions on Thursday, Mr Denton highlighted the case of Geelong Cats defender Jed Bews as an example of the money owed to SMAFL.

Bews' player representation agreement with SMAFL expired on October 31, 2013, but he only signed a new agreement with Precision on May 7, 2014. Precision then received commissions for the 2014 and 2015 seasons on the contract Bews had signed with the Cats in August 2013.

Mr Denton said the commissions paid to Precision should have been paid to SMAFL.

The barrister urged Justice Sifris to rely on the facts in the case and not "suspicion or innuendo" from Pickering's lawyers.

Barrister Michael Osborne, QC, for Pickering, had told the court there had been extraordinary transfers of SMAFL funds for the personal benefit of Sourasis and his mother without Pickering's knowledge.

"Mr Sourasis and his mother not only came along to your Honour and lied that Pickering had been told about these things ... but came along to this court with documents that they had forged to justify what, on any view, was an utterly reprehensible use of company monies," Mr Osborne said.

"The fact that they sought to cover it up dishonestly with lies and forged documents not only is devastating to their credit, but it reveals a fairly clear consciousness of guilt."

The civil trial continues.

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