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'The price we have to pay'

Melbourne president Don McLardy - ${keywords}
Melbourne president Don McLardy
I don't think there's any doubt that all of us realise that integrity is the most critical part of our game
Melbourne president Don McLardy

MELBOURNE president Don McLardy has accepted the AFL's sanctions handed down to the club after an investigation into its on-field performance in 2009.

Fronting the press at the MCG on Tuesday afternoon, the Demons president said the club respected the League's decision in supporting the integrity of the game.

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"We now need to abide by the umpire's decision and with what's been going around in Australian sport in the last few weeks, I don't think there's any doubt that all of us realise that integrity is the most critical part of our game," McLardy said.

"If we're caught up slightly in that, for the good of Australian sport, then that's the small price we have to pay."

McLardy believes the club has been vindicated for fighting the ongoing allegations levelled at them.

"I think I've been pretty strong from the start, that the perception of what happened in our football club in 2009, and the reality have been two completely different things," McLardy said.

McLardy said he and the club were relieved to have the investigation out of the way, so that they could concentrate on the 2013 season.

Click here to read the AFL's full statement

"We've got to put this behind us and that's part of our rationale with this, is that we need clear air."

"Our guys and our new football department, our new players, our squad needs to be able to go out on Friday (night) and create some of our own history."

Chris Connolly, then football manager, has been suspended for a year following the investigation, while then coach and now Adelaide assistant, Dean Bailey, will sit out the first 16 games of the 2013 season.

However, the Demons have shown their support to Connolly, confirming he would remain as an employee of the club once his suspension ceases.

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McLardy threw his support behind Connolly.

"I'm unhappy for Chris. But again, Chris is a person who understands the complexities of this situation and he's accepted the umpire's decision."

While specific penalties have been enforced on Connolly and Bailey, the Demons were fined $500,000 for their part in accepting "ultimate responsibility for the conduct of the club personnel in key roles".

McLardy admitted the club would find it challenging to cope financially.

"It will make it very difficult for our finances next year, but our supporters and foundation heroes have proven to be great supporters of our football club," he said.

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"We'll continue to seek their support and get through this tough year."

The president said the past four years, and past eight months in particular, had been a very trying time for the club.

"There's been an amazing amount of speculation on our football club, on our key people," he said.

"I think today we should be looking back on some of the things that have been said about our football club and our people, examining those closely and maybe having a bit of a rethink about how these things should be conducted in the future.

"I think it's a good example of waiting for the facts to come out, before making character and personal judgments about people."

McLardy also expressed his disappointment in some for questioning the integrity of former Melbourne president Jim Stynes.

"It was never something that Jim was answerable for. But his legacy is untarnished," McLardy said.

Follow AFL Media reporter Ben Guthrie on Twitter at @AFL_BenGuthrie