Collingwood's Steele Sidebottom. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL has come down hard on gun Magpie Steele Sidebottom for breaching the League's COVID-19 protocols on Saturday, banning him from Collingwood's next four matches.

Sidebottom's suspension also took into account his weekend conduct, which concluded with police transporting him home on Sunday morning in a heavily intoxicated state.

FULL STATEMENT AFL explains Sidebottom and Dunn ban

Fellow Pie Lynden Dunn has received a one-game ban for his involvement. reported on Wednesday morning that Sidebottom faced up to a four-match sanction and that Dunn was likely to cop just one.


In a statement, Collingwood confirmed it would not appeal the suspensions but both the club and Sidebottom believe his ban was "excessive, inconsistent with recent protocol breaches and contestable". 

Collingwood plays Essendon at the MCG on Friday night, ahead of likely changes to the fixture in future rounds.

"To his credit, Steele considered what was in the best interests of the code and Collingwood," Magpies football boss Geoff Walsh said of a potential appeal.

"Firstly, he accepts that he made some poor decisions but he also feels it is the right thing to accept the punishment, a greater punishment than most believe is fair, to avoid a distraction that could create difficulties for the competition and his teammates.

"That's the sort of person Steele is.

"As a club, we considered all options but our disappointment over Steele's suspension is no greater than it is over the fact that two senior players breached the return to play protocols.

"Everyone knows Steele and Lynden started out with the best of intentions, to console an injured team-mate, but our players and staff have been well educated on the protocols and we take our social responsibilities seriously."

Club president Eddie McGuire confirmed Collingwood would not review Sidebottom’s vice-captaincy or place in the club’s leadership group.


The pair's breaches included them sharing an Uber together – which is not allowed under the COVID-19-related protocols – from Jeremy Howe's house to Dunn's home on Saturday evening. understands the original plan was for Sidebottom and Dunn to be picked up from Howe's home but that plan changed.

Sidebottom then travelled to former Magpies footballer and now staff member Daniel Wells' home in Williamstown.

That was a further breach, because Wells is not among Collingwood's approved staff who can be in contact with the playing group.

RULE BREACH Sidebottom, Dunn in COVID hot water after drinks with Howe

They self-reported the breaches on Sunday to club officials, who then notified the AFL. Sidebottom and Dunn were interviewed on Monday morning.


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AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said after the ban was announced that the five previous breaches of the return to play protocols should have served as a "reminder" to others to follow the rules.

Lachie Hunter was also involved in an alleged drunken car crash during the AFL's previous protocols.

He also received a four-game suspension for his actions, and Victoria Police officially charged him this week.

"The protocols have been clearly communicated, reviewed and accepted by all players across the League," Dillon said.

"The sanctions enforced in recent weeks should have been the reminder for everyone across the clubs, so we are disappointed to be having to deal with these breaches.

"We acknowledge both players' remorse and cooperation with the investigation and recognise they reported the breaches to the club to ensure any risk could be mitigated.

"Now, more than ever, we all must continue to be vigilant and respect that the protocols are in place to ensure the safety of the players, their families, clubs, staff and the wider community."