Demons’ financial viability at risk, warns Healy

MELBOURNE great Gerard Healy has hit out at AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and the AFL Commission and fears the Demons could be left financially depleted if found guilty of tanking.

As the Melbourne board, chief executive Cameron Schwab, former football manager Chris Connolly and former coach Dean Bailey responded on Tuesday to the league’s investigation into the 2009 season, Healy expressed concerns about the club’s future.

”If they are found guilty of tanking, they may have the very existence of the football club at threat,” he said. ”They are a holder of a gaming licence down at the Bentleigh Club. If, in fact, the club is found to have been unscrupulous in its behaviour, if you want to use those terms, that capacity for them to hold that licence may be at threat. That would provide them with one or two million [dollars] a year.

”Their sponsorships have all got clauses that say they [sponsors] could walk out if, in fact, they are guilty.”

The board, Schwab and Connolly are facing charges of bringing the game into disrepute and tampering with the draft. Bailey also faces a charge of not coaching to his utmost.

Through their individual lawyers, all parties had to show reason to the AFL by Tuesday why they should not be charged. The AFL’s acting football operations manager, Gillon McLachlan, will now play a key role in deciding their fate.

Lawyers for at least two of the parties were expected to hold back from responding in full in case a hearing is convened.

Healy, who played 121 matches for the Demons before joining Sydney and winning a Brownlow Medal, believes the Demons tanked to secure the top two picks in the ’09 national draft.

”I don’t know what the AFL should do. What I thought at the time was they were tanking and nothing has probably changed my mind,” he said.

Healy said Demetriou and the AFL Commission had erred in their handling of the controversy, which simmered for years before exploding last year when former Melbourne player Brock McLean made his stunning revelations that Melbourne had tanked.

”I also think Andrew Demetriou should have called an amnesty only a few months ago when Brock McLean made this thing go front and centre again,” Healy said on 3AW.

”I think if they called the amnesty it would have sufficed … under the salary-cap cheating [amnesty], every club put their hand up bar two or three.

”Andrew Demetriou has also got to understand he has played a significant role in creating the environment for which four or five clubs have tanked. They have taken away the incentive, but his reluctance to accept what the whole world was telling him, his complete denial that tanking existed, allowed clubs to think they could get away with it. It was almost tacit approval.

”I think the commission needs to cop a bit on the chin about this one as well, because they stuffed up with their handling of this.”

The AFL last year toughened the guidelines for securing a priority draft pick.

”If [the Demons] are found guilty, they are going to court. You can guarantee – unless there is a deal done – they are off to court,” Healy said.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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