AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan may have resigned back in April, but the date of his actual departure is still up in the air. After almost 20 years in the AFL, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family. His line has changed now and he said recently there are several pending issues which he still has to oversee, not the least of which is the Hawthorn racism investigation. It's not clear why the next CEO can't handle them. He told The Melbourne Age, “The timeline is, I’m leaving, but I ... there are a few things going on that I feel it’s my responsibility to be settled down enough and on an even footing when I leave ... The priority is for the leadership to feel comfortable, that you feel stable so that when you handover it’s in a good spot. What that date is I can’t tell you, but it’s not going to be into late next year, but over the coming months ...".
First year field umpire Michael Pell and three others were arrested in mid-November for leaking Brownlow votes. Apparently. the votes from specific matches were leaked. The AFL was alerted by one of its betting partners who detected suspicious betting and the AFL launched an investigation, leading to the arrests. The irregularities and leaks did not compromise the Brownlow count on the night according to the AFL. The bets which raised red flags ranged in size up to several thousand dollars.
However, the fallout could be severe in that it allegedly involves a match official divulging information. A police statement said in part that, " ... The criminal offenses police are investigating are engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes ...". When the three others were arrested, cell phones and computers were also seized. Criminal charges are pending, but conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Police are investigating how many matches potentially had votes released and the magnitude of the bets involved. If the allegations are found to be true, the umpire could also face AFL sanctions.
Despite the fact that the AFL has appointed an independent panel to investigate the racism allegation against Hawthorn, the indigenous families involved are still wary of participating in the investigations. Some of the families involved wrote an open letter to the AFL, requesting the league admit its failings in dealing with the issue of racism. The allegations focus on a period between 2008 and 2016. The letter continued, "We have decided to participate in the AFL Independent Investigation on the basis that the AFL is also committed to independently look at its own failings, and promises to all First Nations families it will do better as a result ... the issue of racism in the AFL cannot be dealt with by a narrowly targeted investigation on a club-by-club, or crisis-by-crisis, basis. We want the AFL to take a good hard look at itself and how it has dealt with racism in the past. Not because we want to trawl over 100 years of neglect, or conduct a witch-hunt or to bring legal claims, but because we want the AFL to be a safer place for our children."
Roster changes in the leadup to the AFL draft later this month continued at Gold Coast, Essendon, and Adelaide. In early November, inaugural Sun Rory Thompson announced his retirement citing ongoing knee issues as the reason. Thompson, 31, played 106 games for the Suns and leaves as the longest serving player in the club's short history. He was a local zone selection for the club and was one of only four players from the Gold Coast region selected for their inaugural 2011 season.
Two knee reconstructions disrupted his career, and he made a comeback early this season after almost four years on the sidelines. In making the announcement, Thompson said, “It’s been such a long journey with so many ups and downs and wonderful people ... I’m super grateful to the Suns for giving me that opportunity so many years ago as a young kid and having stuck with me all this time, it’s pretty hard to put into words what that means to me ... Towards the end of last year it was getting hard to back up games and keep my body moving and it just felt like the right time ... I ... didn’t think I would get drafted, so to go to where I am now after 14 years, I’m very proud of myself and the work I’ve put in and very grateful to the people that have helped me get this far.”
Editorial note: As some fans will know, AFANA has not posted to Twitter in about 19 months. This was the result of two factors: insufficient volunteer staff made worse by the pandemic and the endless abuse and noise on Twitter. In recent months, the disruption and chaos at Twitter itself has finally meant the end of our use of that platform.
We are now moving to Mastodon. You can find us at: @AusFbAssocNA[at)dummy[ dot }cafe. If you are not familiar with Mastodon, you will find it easy to use and there is more info at this article by Ed Bott on Zdnet: Ditching Twitter for Mastodon.
We encourage our visitors on social media to consider Mastodon as an alternative platform. We will be gradually removing any links here to Twitter over the coming weeks and months.
In mid-October, the Kangaroos and Adelaide traded draft selections, allowing the Roos to move up a notch or two in the draft order. North received selection 23 in this year's draft in exchange for pick 59 and a future second-round selection. Gold Coast, Sydney, and West Coast delisted players while Essendon looks to get twin "favorite sons".
The Kangaroos also delisted midfielder Jared Polec. Polec was originally drafted by Brisbane but was later traded to Port Adelaide. He joined North at the end of the 2018 season and played every game in 2019. However, he was restricted to 18 games over the next two seasons due to injury. He was delisted at the end of 2021 and added to the rookie list. Polec, 30, was hampered by a foot injury early in the season and required surgery.
In mid-October, Port Adelaide, Adelaide, Essendon, Collingwood, and North Melbourne all made more list changes and two Western Bulldogs players announced their retirements.
Port Adelaide delisted forwards Martin Frederick and Dylan Williams but has committed to reselecting Williams in the rookie draft. Frederick, a product of the club’s Next Generation Academy, played 14 games after debuting against St Kilda in 2021. He played six games this season. against the Gold Coast in Round 15. Williams, 21, was drafted in 2019 but played just one game in 2021. He played every game for Port Adelaide in the SANFL this season, kicking 20 goals.
Adelaide delisted James Rowe, Ben Davis, and Brett Turner. Rowe was drafted in 2020 and kicked 27 goals in his 36 games as a small forward while Davis was drafted in 2016 and played 11 AFL games as both a forward and rebounding defender. Turner was picked up in the midseason draft this season but did not manage any senior games. The club is considering redrafting him as a rookie.
Just a few months after he signed a contract extension, Brett Ratten was dismissed as St Kilda senior coach. In a statement, the club said they "got it wrong". The Saints recently completed a thorough a review of their football operations, with the findings indicating a change of leadership and voice in the senior coach position was needed. Saints president Andrew Bassett and chief executive Simon Lethlean held a press conference in mid-October to explain their decision.
Bassat labelled it a “brutal process”, saying Ratten was “blindsided” by the club’s decision and had “no inkling” his position was under threat, “This has been a very tough few weeks and the decision ... has been a very painful one for the club and of course incredibly disappointing for Brett and his family ... our duty to members in the pursuit of success requires us to make the best decision for the club and for the members and not the individual ...".
In early October, the AFL finally appointed their four person panel to investigate the racism allegations against Hawthorn, the then coach Alastair Clarkson and assistant Chris Fagan. Attorney Bernard Quinn, KC [King's Counsel], will head the panel and be joined by experienced barristers Jacqualyn Turfrey, Julie Buxton, and Tim Goodwin. Quinn has experience in commercial, public law and product liability law and extensive experience with class action suits. He was involved with the investigations in the Black Saturday bush fires. He also served as an associate to a justice in the High Court.
Jacqualyn Turfrey, Barrister, has extensive experience in multiple areas in commercial law and criminal law. She also worked in family and children's courts. She is an accredited mediator with experience in workplace disputes, community disputes, commercial disputes, and children's matters. Ms Turfrey is a proud Palawa woman (Tasmania). Tim Goodwin, Barrister, specializes in commercial and public law with experience across commercial law, administrative law, government advice work, regulatory actions, and native title and land rights work. He has experience in federal court and serves on a number of boards including the Human Rights Law Center. He is a member of the Yuin people of the South East Coast of New South Wales.
After the racism allegations against Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan became public, the AFL said a four member panel would be appointed to investigate further. However, those allegedly affected by the alleged abuse said they were leery of giving their stories again to the AFL because of the way such issues have been handled in the past, or not handled at all. Age reporter Caroline Wilson said, “There’s genuine despair ... that it’s taken over a week already, and ... the aggrieved families who gave evidence in the Phillip Egan review (the Hawthorn club review which started it all) ... were still not over the line as agreeing to the process. They ... have been saying they want an independent judicial enquiry ... these people gave their evidence, are unwilling to do so again in an environment they don’t trust.”
Both Clarkson and Fagan have denied the allegations, with Clarkson saying he was never interviewed at the time of the initial review. Fagan has said he will cooperate with the new round of investigations. Both coaches are believed to have hired attorneys.
Source: sen.com.au, news.com.au