AFL CEO Halts Essendon Funding Until Club Stops Paying Suspended Coach
Australian Football League CEO Andrew Demetriou "has stripped Essendon of funding until it stops paying suspended coach James Hird," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. The decision is "a dramatic escalation of a dispute now headed towards another showdown with the AFL Commission." Following last week's "error on Melbourne radio," when the AFL boss stated that Hird was not being paid by the club, Demetriou said the league was withholding unspecified funds from the club until it abided by the AFL's "clear intention" that Hird not be paid. Demetriou: "The public statements from the AFL, from myself as CEO last week, were in the belief that Essendon had concluded its payment arrangements and begun the suspension period." Essendon received last year nearly A$12M in funding from the AFL. The AFL ultimatum "was met with a defiant response from Hird." Hird's lawyer, Steve Amendola, said that there was "nothing in the terms agreed to by Hird and the AFL that prevented Essendon from paying its banned coach." Amendola said, "It was clear on the night that James Hird would be paid by the Essendon Football Club during his suspension and I am happy to elaborate on the basis of why that was clear if the AFL continues to assert the contrary." The club issued a brief statement saying it would respond "in due course." The AFL said two weeks after terms were agreed to, AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon met Essendon CEO Ray Gunston and "made clear the league's view that Hird was not to be paid while serving his suspension." Essendon "disputes this and says while the conditions of Hird's suspension were discussed, the issue of pay was not" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 12/13). In Melbourne, Emma Quayle wrote that the AFL told the club it was going to "deny $100,000 a month until it receives formal assurance that Hird's salary" has been stopped (THE AGE, 12/13).
WAITING TO HEAR BACK: SPORTAL's Ronny Lerner reported the AFL's statement on Thursday also said that the league had written to Essendon twice in the past week "seeking assurances from them that Hird was not being paid." The league claimed that they "still haven't heard back from Essendon." Demetriou: "Since September, the AFL has been in consultation with the Essendon FC concerning the terms of James Hird's suspension, including the fact he cannot be paid by the club for a period of 12 months. The AFL has since sought confirmation and is yet to receive it" (SPORTAL, 12/12). In Sydney, Massoud, Hooper & Wilson reported one of sports scientist Stephen Dank's closest medical allies has confirmed in court papers that Dank "provided banned peptide CJC-1295 to an NRL player." Dr. Ijaz Khan -- the physician responsible for injecting suspended winger Sandor Earl in '11 -- has "disclosed Dank's role in supplying the prohibited substance to the ex-Canberra Raiders flyer" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 12/12).