I wish to confirm our Chairman, Mike Fitzpatrick has called a special meeting of AFL Club Presidents for tomorrow, Thursday, August 22 at 3pm at AFL House so that the AFL Commission can brief our clubs on the inquiry and investigation into the Essendon Football Club and charges which allege breaches of Rule 1.6 by our General Counsel Andrew Dillon.
As General Counsel, Andrew Dillon formed the view there was sufficient evidence to bring these charges against the Essendon Football Club and specific persons as part of the process of the ongoing inquiry and investigation into whether breaches of the rules have occurred.
This assessment was made on the basis of information gathered during a six month investigation which included more than 13,000 documents.
As part of tomorrow’s briefing to the Club Presidents, we have forwarded the detail of the charges in respect of the Essendon Football Club to the Club Presidents this afternoon.
We have made available the charges and the ASADA report to the AFL Players’ Association so that the documents can be reviewed by the players from the Essendon Football Club and their families.
The duty of care to players is a fundamental responsibility of the AFL Commission and all AFL clubs.
Given the level of public interest in this matter, we have also released the details of the charges against Essendon this afternoon.
This is consistent with the view I have expressed in recent weeks that the charges should be released given the amount of information and speculation which has been in the public domain for the past six months.
Our game enjoys an extraordinary level of public support and we believe the public should receive as much information about the matters alleged as is reasonably possible so they can better understand the issues involved.
The release of this information is consistent with the steps taken by the Essendon Football Club to publish the report by Dr Ziggy Switkowski which was commissioned by the club earlier this year.
I am making these comments today because as CEO of the AFL, I have decided that for the sake of everyone involved in the game – supporters, players, clubs and other key partners – that there must be transparency and clarity around this issue given the widespread speculation since the charges were announced on August 13.
All parties were advised at that time of our intention to release the detail of the charges.
This reflects the importance of the AFL’s inquiry and investigation into whether there have been breaches of the rules and the legitimate interest of the public in matters pertaining to the integrity of the AFL competition, in the interests of transparency and so that the public can have an understanding of the nature of the charges relating to these matters.
The AFL notes that certain confidential parts of the Statement of Grounds have been redacted.
The AFL highlights that the Statement of Grounds contains the charges only and their correctness or otherwise remains to be determined. The Essendon Football Club and other parties will be given every reasonable opportunity to answer these charges.
I want to state very clearly there has been no pre-determination of this matter by the AFL Commission. The AFL Commission has an open mind as to whether Essendon has breached the AFL Rules and Regulations and it is an important part of the Commission’s inquiry and investigation that Essendon knows what is alleged and has every reasonable opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Given my role as a member of the AFL Commission, I am unable to take any questions this afternoon.
- The AFL Commission is scheduled to meet on Monday, August 26. This meeting will go ahead.
- We have a number of important matters to consider including the structure of the AFL season for 2014, an update on revenue sharing and competitive balance and to consider an interchange cap for 2014.
- If the Essendon Football Club or any of the individuals concerned want to respond to the allegations at the meeting of the Commission on Monday, the Commission will be able to hear and consider those responses.
- If they require further time – as we have consistently stated – that will be granted to a date to be determined.
Below: AFL boss Andrew Demetriou checks his notes before facing the media. Picture: AFL Media