No Fond Memories of Fitzpatrick For Some

Lisa Albergo's picture

 by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

While many will remember Mike Fitzpatrick fondly for all the positives he accomplished during his time as chairman, there are some who are not so happy. At the announcement of his retirement from the AFL Commission, Fitzpatrick said of the Essendon saga, "I think it was a really difficult issue, what happened was difficult, it should never have happened. But I am totally comfortable with the way we dealt with it ... I felt – as different events unfolded – the commission and the AFL dealt with them as they came, dealt with them under their processes ... ".

One who made his displeasure known was Essendon's Brendan Goddard, who stood in as captain in 2016 during Jobe Watson's suspension. Goddard replied on Twitter, "Whatever helps you sleep at night, Mike!" Goddard joined Essendon at the end of the 2012 season from St Kilda, after the program had ended and six months before the saga broke in the news in 2013.

Another person who has taken a swipe at Fitzpatrick is former coach James Hird's former media adviser Ian Hanke. In a veiled criticism, he said he hoped that incoming chairman Goyder would overhaul the AFL and "... rid it of internal conflicts."

And it doesn't end there with a Melbourne lawyer lodging a writ against Fitzpatrick and CEO Gil McLachlan. The writ alleges acts of deceptive or misleading conduct during the investigations. In his writ, lawyer Jackson Taylor claims the AFL deceived the public over the integrity of the joint investigations by the AFL and ASADA and the AFL's responsibilities regarding player health and safety in that "... the AFL contributed significantly to the exposure of players to risks to their health and safety" by failing to regulate against the use of peptides ... ". Taylor also mentioned claims that Fitzpatrick had said Hird would never be allowed back into football, claims Fitzpatrick strongly denied.

Taylor tried once before to take the issue to court, but lacked the funding to carry through. While he did lodge paperwork in 2015 against the AFL, the league sought "security of costs" and it never went any further. Now, with more and more people concerned with the how the investigations were conducted and the fact that the AFL has never released full documentation of what transpired, Taylor believes funding would be forthcoming if the AFL tries to block him financially again. He said in part, "... This time I think there are people ... who are concerned enough about the conduct, they will back me if the AFL does get an order for security ... people ... would be willing to fund this litigation to force the AFL to confront the accusations made against them ... "The ultimate end game is to have a trial and to allow the public to have clarification the ways in which the AFL mishandled the investigation, including the way it treated Hird, (Danny) Corcoran (football manager) and  (Mark) Thompson."

Source: theage.com.au

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