by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The Adelaide Crows and Kurt Tippett faced the AFL Commission on Friday November 30 to learn their penalties for breaching the salary cap and draft rules. According to Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick, the Commission took into consideration the contrition shown by CEO Steven Trigg, Operations Manager Phil Harper, former general manager John Reid and Kurt Tippett when determining the penalties. Also taken into consideration was the full cooperation of the Adelaide Crows during the investigation. As well the club voluntarily relinquished their first two selections at the recently completed National Draft.
According to AFL Operations Manager Adrian Anderson, the charges were as follows:
Three charges against the Adelaide Crows related to being involved in a breach of the rules for conduct prejudicial to the Draft and a breach of the rules relating to conduct prejudicial to the Total Player Payments provisions.
Three charges against CEO Steven Trigg, as per those against the club, related to being involved in a breach of the rules for conduct prejudicial to the Draft and a breach of the rules relating to conduct prejudicial to the Total Player Payments provisions.
Two charges against former general manager John Reid related to being involved in a breach of the rules for conduct prejudicial to the Draft and a breach of the rules relating to conduct prejudicial to the Total Player Payments provisions.
One charge against current General Manager Football Operations Phil Harper related to being involved in a breach of the rules for conduct prejudicial to the Total Player Payments provisions.
Two charges against player Kurt Tippett related to being involved in a breach of the rules for conduct prejudicial to the Draft and a breach of the rules relating to conduct prejudicial to the Total Player Payments provisions.
AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou again summarized the charges, stating that there had been an agreement between the club and Tippett outside the standard playing contract which would allow Tippett to transfer to the club of his choice at the end of the 2012 season. There were also side agreements which saw Tippett receive $100,000 in 2011 and 2012 in addition to his contract as well as another contract with the club for promotional work. These agreements were signed in 2009. The Crows lodged inaccurate statutory declarations with the AFL which would allow Tippett to be a free agent even though he was not eligible. The club was also charged with facilitating the side agreements over the period 2009-2011.
The penalties are as follows:
Stripped of the Rounds One and Two selections at the 2013 draft as well as father-son selections. The Crows will be allowed to take those first two selections only if they are obtained via a trade or free agency compensation
Suspended for one year from holding any office, performing any club functions and attending training and matches. The suspension will take effect on January 1, 2013. Six months of the suspension will be suspended on the condition he receives no monetary payment or benefits of any sort from any club for the first six months. The suspended penalty will be in effect for the next five years.
Also suspended for one year under the same conditions imposed upon Steven Trigg
Suspended under the same conditions as Trigg and Reid. However, his suspension is for six months with the the last four months suspended for five years provided he adheres to the conditions imposed.
Suspended from the 2013 Preseason NAB Cup as well as 22 home and away games with 11 of those suspended for five years.
After the hearing, Fitzpatrick reinforced the AFL's stance that any club caught breaching player payment rules would be penalized and reminded all and sundry that "... club officials, players and player managers have a fundamental responsibility to their members and supporters and the game to manage their affairs in an honest, open and responsible way.”
AFLPA General Manager Ian Prendergast issued a statement regarding the penalties. While acknowledging the AFL's policy of equalization and maintaining the integrity of the player payment rules, Prendergast said there were concerns regarding the penalty handed to Tippett. He felt the penalty was somewhat harsh given that Tippett was receiving advice from club officials and his own advisers.
Prendergast continued by saying the AFLPA Accreditation Board would investigate the role played by Tippett's manager Peter Blucher during the time. Should Blucher's actions be found to have breached the rules as well, he could face serious sanctions, including the revocation of his agent accreditation.
Adelaide then went on to do some damage control, issuing a statement in which they acknowledged their wrongdoing and accepted their penalties. Although accepting the penalties, the club believes they are harsh for "mistakes in process and errors of judgement." The statement continued "Never was there any intent to gain unfair advantage, compromise the draft, breach the salary cap or make improper player payments. The Club and its officers always acted consistent with their intent to uphold the integrity of the draft and the Club did not breach the salary cap".
The club also believes it can overcome the penalties with the "... youth, ability and character of its player list, the capacity of its coaching panel and off-field leadership ... the quality of its strategic recruiting in the 2011 and 2012 drafts and trading periods ... the new free agency rules offer unprecedented recruiting flexibility."
Trigg offered his resignation, but the Adelaide board refused it and has fully backed both him and Harper to return to their duties after serving their suspensions. In the interim, the board also decided on who would fill their positions. The board has appointed chairman Ron Chapman as executive chairman to fulfill the CEO duties until Trigg's return on July 1. List manager David Noble will fill in for Harper until Harper's return on March 1.
Kurt Tippett kept a low profile during the investigations but issued the following statement afterward: "I trusted the Adelaide Football Club and for the duration of my contract I did my utmost for the Club on and off the field. It is bitterly disappointing, then, to learn that my trust and best endeavors have been to my substantial detriment. Only during the recent AFL trade period did I learn that some terms in the Adelaide offer may have contravened AFL rules, and since that point I and all parties associated with me have co-operated fully with the AFL in its investigations. I have nothing to hide and have only refrained from media comment in recent weeks on legal advice and out of respect for the AFL investigation process. Through my legal representative I asked for an open hearing today in the hope that the truth would be revealed. I pleaded guilty to the two charges on advice without any admission of liability and despite being assured there were valid defenses available to me in respect to both charges. It is very important to me that I concentrate on preparing for next season and remove all distractions from my preparation. I am glad that this matter is now finalized and I look forward to moving on and playing football."
Sydney, Tippett's preferred destination in the agreement, is still very much interested in obtaining him through the preseason draft in several weeks. GWS is also interested in adding Tippett to their roster. However, they are considering several factors before doing so. According to CEO David Matthews, the club will review Tippett's financial terms to see if they can fit him into their salary cap. They also will consider whether or not Tippett will be "a good fit" for the team. GWS does have the advantage over the Swans as they have the first selection at the draft.
Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release; Heath Evans, AFLPA Media Release; David Burtenshaw, Adelaide Media Release; Jessica Ries, GWS Media Release
Article last changed on Friday, February 01, 2013 - 10:04 PM EST