ON behalf of the Board of the Essendon Football Club, I confirm the club, James Hird, Mark Thompson and Danny Corcoran tonight reached agreement with the AFL on conduct and penalties relating to governance and management of the club’s supplement program in late 2011 and 2012.
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We recognise that failings occurred at our club during this period. We must – and do – accept accountability and apologise for them.
We have learnt from our mistakes and made substantial reforms to our governance and people management practices to ensure the club will never be in this position again.
The club also accepts the penalties imposed by the AFL and welcomes that this matter has been brought to a close for the club and the three individuals.
Doctor Bruce Reid has advised he will contest the charges laid against him. The club understands and respects his decision.
It is important to note that the admissions contained in the settlements are significantly different to the allegations previously released by the AFL.
In the Deeds of Settlement, the AFL acknowledges that neither Essendon Football Club nor any of the individuals charged set out to implement a supplements program that would result in players being administered prohibited or potentially harmful substances.
However the settlement does involve significant penalties, including:
· The club missing the finals in 2013;
· Suspension of James Hird for 12 months.
· Suspension of Danny Corcoran for four months (plus two months suspended suspension);
· A fine of $30,000 for Mark Thompson;
· Loss of our first two draft selections in the 2013 National Draft and our 2nd round pick in 2014; and
· A $2 million fine for the club.
Through every step in this process – from our decision to self report to ASADA, our full co-operation with the subsequent investigation, the commissioning of the Switkowski Report and our briefings of players and their families – our first priority has been the welfare of our players.
We can reassure our fans and the broader football community that this will always be paramount in our pursuit of success.
I am full of admiration for our players, their families and all our staff and sponsors for the way they have conducted themselves under great pressure during the course of this season. It has been a trying time for all and we look forward to the club fully focusing on 2014 and beyond.
On behalf of the club, I reiterate our support for James, Mark, Danny and Bruce. This process has been exceptionally taxing on everyone at the club – but no more so than for our players, these four individuals and their families. Throughout, they have conducted themselves with great dignity and loyalty to Essendon.
While the Board will shortly determine a process for making necessary people and structure arrangements, we can confirm assistant coach Simon Goodwin will coach the team against Richmond at the MCG on Saturday night.
We also confirm that at the completion of his 12 month suspension, James Hird will be welcomed back as senior coach of Essendon Football Club.
The club has worked hard to bring these matters to a conclusion in the interests of our players and staff, their families, our supporters, sponsors and all football followers.
Essendon Football Club is blessed with incredibly loyal members, supporters and sponsors.
I thank them for their strong messages of support and look forward to working with them to ensure our club rebounds and is wiser and stronger in season 2014 and beyond.