Crows didn't mean to breach rules

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 24 Oktober 2012 | 14.43

Kurt Tippett listens in during a Crows training session at West Lakes earlier this year before announcing his wish to move to Sydney. Picture: Tait Schmaal. Source: The Advertiser

UPDATE: CROWS chairman Rob Chapman says the Adelaide Football Club had never intended to break the AFL rules with its special agreement with defecting forward Kurt Tippett.

In the Crows' first public statement since the AFL launched an investigation into Tippett's out-of-contract exit clause, Chapman has told adelaidenow: "Our intent was never to break any rules. And we have a history of compliance, no record of any misdemeanours.

"But if we have now got this wrong, we need to know before the trade is done ... and we will have to abide by any penalty."

Chapman revealed to adelaidenow that Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg was in his office an hour after returning from a European holiday on Friday to put the Tippett contract on his table.

"And 90 minutes later we were on the phone to (AFL chief) Andrew Demetriou," said Chapman. "We have disclosed the issues we think he should be aware of.

"We have opened to the AFL all the books at the Adelaide Football Club without condition. And I have given the AFL a gold-plated commitment they will find nothing out of order with any other player contract."

Adelaide is understood to have agreed after closing contract talks with Tippett in 2009 to release the ruckman-forward at a "minimal cost", supposedly a second-round draft pick.

"Remember three years ago everyone in this state wanted our club to re-sign Kurt Tippett," said Chapman. "At that time, our people negotiating the deal believed what they were doing was right."

Chapman did not detail the specifics of Tippett's out-of-contract exit clauses that were written in 2009 when the Queenslander signed a three-year extension. He also did not answer why Adelaide had asked for an AFL investigation during the trade period despite the questions on Tippett's contract being in the public domain for more than a year.

"They are good questions," said Chapman. "And I would love to be a position to disclose more fully my answer to those questions - and I look forward to the day I do. Because the club's members and the football public deserve to know what is going on.

"Remember, we asked the AFL to investigate this. In the past week it has been clear we have to remove every shade of grey from this debate. There must be full disclosure.

"Once I took this to the board, every director without hesitation, agreed this needs to be clarified and there needs to be disclosure to the AFL. The AFL acknowledges we have done the right thing to bring to this them.

"Everyone deserves answers."

Chapman would not reveal the legal advice his club has received.

"I've consulted far and wide - and put in place methods to look at this with due diligence," he said. "We're asking all the questions. We are still in the process of getting the answers."

EARLIER: The investigation concerns an alleged addendum to the contract filed with AFL House, which could have been as informal as a gentleman's agreement but could also have been taken as a verbal contract.

It is not believed there was a legal document signed by Tippett's manager Peter Blucher and the club.

At the heart of the inquiry is whether the Crows had guaranteed Tippett an easy passage to return to Queensland at the end of his contract, or to the club of his choice.

"The Australian Football League wishes to advise it has recently become aware of a matter regarding the contracting of player Kurt Tippett to the Adelaide Crows in 2009, to cover the 2010 - 2012 AFL seasons,'' AFL spokesman Patrick Keane said.

"The AFL is still in the process of investigating this matter and how it relates to the operation of the AFL Player Rules.

This afternoon the Crows released a statement confirming the investigation.

"The process began when the Adelaide Football Club notified the AFL of its concern relating to the matter and submitted relevant information to the League," the statement said. "The club welcomes the investigation and continues to assist the AFL with its enquiries. 

"Until the matter has concluded, the club will not be available for any further comment."

Earlier, Fairfax Media reported the Crows last week met with the AFL and presented a written document that confirmed an agreement between the club and Tippett allowing him to move to a new team of his choice.

In talks leading up and during the trade period, Tippett's manager Peter Blucher was clear that the Crows would help Tippett arrive at "the club of his choice'' when his contract expired, not limiting Tippett to the Gold Coast or Brisbane.

Either scenario, if proven, could amount to draft tampering and may not meet clear commercial value for both clubs, which is a requirement under AFL trade rules.
Every contract and trade deal has to be ticked off by the AFL and it's certain the clause would not be approved by the league if it had been put into the player contract Tippett signed three years ago.

Department of Trades

The Crows have denied Tippett had a "go home" clause in his last deal and Adelaide list manager David Noble previously said his understanding was that the club would seek to help Tippett return to Queensland. But he was not involved in signing off on the contract, having worked as an assistant coach at the time.

It is unknown whether the supposed gentleman's agreement was put in writing, served as a verbal contract or was less formal than that.
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Tippett this month nominated Sydney as his preferred club. The trade period ends this week and if a deal with the Swans - or any AFL club - is not reached Tippett will slip through to the national and/or pre-season draft, leaving the Crows without compensation.

Trigg arrived back in Australia from Europe on Friday and put a planned swap of Tippett for Sydney's pick 23 and fringe player Jesse White on hold.

It is believed Trigg is demanding a better financial deal for the Crows.

- with Jesper Fjeldstad

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