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The tanking breakdown

Jennifer Phelan  February 19, 2013 4:41 PM

'Tanking' investigation unplugged The AFL.com.au team wraps up the 'tanking' investigation

What the Demons have been found guilty of:
Chris Connolly (then football operations manager)
• Acted in a manner concerning pre-game planning, comprising comments to a football department meeting which were prejudicial to the interests of the AFL during the 2009 premiership season.
• His motives were to secure a priority draft pick.

Dean Bailey (then senior coach)
• Having regard to Connolly’s comments acted in pre-game planning in a manner which was prejudicial to the interests of the AFL during the 2009 premiership season.

Melbourne fined, Connolly, Bailey suspended

"Connolly and Bailey have agreed to accept all charges and the AFL, after a formal sign off from the AFL commission, took into account the levels of co-operation and remorse of each of the charged parties. Connolly has accepted he went into a football department meeting and he made a terrible and stupid decision in the context of an AFL rule, which is now changed, and in the context of pressure and the expectation of success, made a comment regarding the performance of the team and the desire to secure a priority pick. I know he now regrets that comment. He walked into a meeting and instructed the football department to think about the future of the club in the context of a priority pick rule. That's what Chris has accepted." – AFL acting football operations manager Gillon McLachlan.

Click here to read the AFL's full statement

What they have been cleared of:
Melbourne
• A directive from the Melbourne board or executive management that the team should deliberately lose matches in any game during the 2009 premiership season.
• That the club, its coach and team set out to deliberately lose matches during the 2009 premiership season.
• No evidence supported a suggestion any player had "any visibility of anything that happened in that meeting".
Dean Bailey
• Not trying to win on match day.

What the penalties are, under AFL player rule 1.6:
Melbourne
• $500,000 fine – the third largest fine in the history of the AFL.
Chris Connolly
• Suspended until February 1, 2014 from occupying any office or performing any function (including attending matches or training sessions) for or on behalf of any club.
• The suspension will start on Monday, February 25, 2013.
Dean Bailey
• Suspended from coaching for the first 16 rounds of the 2013 premiership season.
• During this time, not permitted to have any match-day role or any role working with players but he may remain employed by Adelaide if it so chooses.

The price we have to pay: McLardy

In Gillon McLachlan's words:

Have all three parties accepted their penalties?

Yes.

What about Cameron Schwab, then and current Melbourne CEO?

"The investigation found no evidence of any knowledge by Cameron or any of the board."

Was there a consideration to take away Melbourne's draft picks?
"We looked at a range of sanctions and considered the fact that the board ultimately had no knowledge, the chief executive had no knowledge and ultimately, the agent, in this case, was a football manager on a second tier down from the board."

What the investigation involved:

• 58 interviews of current and former players, coaches and administrators, officials of the club.
• A forensic analysis of the club's computers, files and email systems.
• 800 pages of evidence.
• Extended over eight months.
• The whole 2009 season was investigated but there was a "significant focus" on the matches from round 15 onwards.

"The basis for the AFL's findings was the testimony received from current and former players, coaches, administrators, and officials. Brett Clothier and his integrity team have done a first-class job in this investigation and after a very thorough and professional eight months, we have an outcome."

From priority picks to claims of tanking, how it got to this

How does Bailey still have a job when AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou has previously said there would be no place in football for anyone found to have deliberately lost games?

"All I can do is make a decision based on the information and evidence presented to me. Andrew has not been privy to any of the information here and questions around comments he may have made historically need to be addressed to him. All I can say is on the evidence presented to me today, there is no allegation that is able to be sustained that Dean Bailey didn't coach on his merits or any of the players didn't play to their utmost ability. There is no suggestion in any of the evidence as to either of those charges."

But didn't Chris Connolly say he was joking when he spoke in that meeting?

"I think he has accepted, and the evidence supports it, that the people in that room took him seriously and acted in a way that they thought he meant it."

Why does Bailey get to stay employed at Adelaide and Connolly is totally suspended?

"Dean Bailey felt pressure to act in that way and he was feeling pressured for his job. The evidence suggests, and Dean Bailey has accepted, that as the coach of the club, he felt pressured after that meeting and made decisions to appease ultimately Chris and decisions around resting players and positional selections of players in that context. What we've found is he felt pressured after that meeting and made decisions in response to that. There is no evidence that supports on match day that he did anything other than try and win the games, and all players tried to win the games."

Can Connolly go back to the club when his suspension is over?

"That's a decision for the Melbourne Football Club. All I know is this is an industry I think is pretty forgiving and has a history of second chances."

Doesn't resting players and positional selections come under the heading of match fixing or tanking?

"It comes under [rule] 1.6, acting in a manner that is prejudicial to the interests of the AFL, and [Bailey] has been suspended for 16 weeks and is paying a significant price for that. Tanking …  in the AFL rules it talks about performing on merits and to their best of their ability.  There was no evidence in the papers or testimonies I received to suggest that Melbourne did anything other than that on match day. In my view, there was no tanking on match day and tanking defined, under that definition, is not overly sustained."

Is the AFL confident this has never happened before?

"All I can talk [about] is the evidence that was presented to me on the 23rd of December, and all I can do is look into the evidence that was gathered over eight months and make the decisions that have been made."

Does the AFL accept responsibility for creating an environment that could have led to a club being put under this pressure?

"What Chris Connolly has accepted and been found guilty of is making a poor decision in a meeting and what I'll do is contextualise that in two ways – under huge pressure to get outcomes in the context of a rule that has now been changed."

Did the fact that the rule was there and has now been changed mitigate the decision?

"I think it's certainly contextual."

If Brock McLean hadn't come forward with this last year, would this still be an unsolved issue?

"Potentially. What he talked about on television was a feeling, there wasn't any concrete evidence. What that did was start a repeated look at the incident by the investigators and over eight months they were able to uncover the meeting. That really didn't have any relationship with what Brock said specifically."

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.