Adelaide and Kurt Tippett

Allegations have surfaced that Kurt Tippett and the Adelaide Football Club had a secret arrangement that may have involved an extra 200k payment and the promise to trade him wherever he wanted to go. The possible ramifications are somewhat serious. Draft tampering and salary cap rorting are issues taken somewhat seriously by sporting leagues in Australia.

Tippett was the Crows highest player at 700k a season, and evidently it was agreed in 2009 as part of his contract that he could be traded to the club of his choice, not as was previously speculated, simply back home to queensland.

On October 2nd, the Adelaide Football Club announced that Kurt Tippett was leaving the club and would look for a trade to another club.

By October 3rd, the Advertiser was reporting that the number of clubs looking for Tippett had been reduced from 6 to 2 – Sydney and the Suns. Sydney were offering the money, but didnt have the draft choices Adelaide would have liked for Tippett making a trade unlikely. However, if Tippett nominated for the draft he could walk to the Suns for free. The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that the Suns were offering 3.5 million 5 year deal.

On October 23rd, the AFL announced that it had become aware of some irregularities in the Adelaide arrangements with Tippett and would launch an investigation. The investigation is centred on a letter of agreement allegedly handed by the Crows to the AFL which was in addition to his contract in 2009.

The agreement has an exit clause – Tipett must be traded to the club of his choice -which may be considered draft tampering, and two deals that may breach salary cap rules.

On October 24th, The Advertiser and The Age reported that Kurts brother Joel, who moved to Adelaide shortly after he did, would also be the subject of the investigation amidst allegations that the Crows paid for him to come to Adelaide..

The Age also reported that the Crows asked the AFL to investigate, seeking clarity on a “gentlemens agreement” from 2009. That agreement, the age reported was in the form of a note, that recorded that Tippett could be sent home if he desired.

The Age also reported that Tippett signed the standard contract, which was approved by the AFL, but neither he not the Crows submitted the rest about the trade terms or extra payments. The Age noted that as part of the contract signing process, the player signs a statuary declaration which reads

“Neither I nor any associate of the player has directly or indirectly received or  had applied any payment, consideration, advantage or other benefit not referred  to in the contract, the arrangement or the detail of other payments attached to  this statutory declaration”

On October 25th, the Advertiser reported that a rival club had a copy of the letter and was seeking an AFL investigation, after reports indicated that Tippetts father was applying pressure.

“I want to make clear that our decision go to the AFL was not motivated by any threat of legal action” – Adelaide CEO, Stephen Trigg

The Age reported that the clauses in question were instigated by Tippets father in 2009, and the Crows signed under intense pressure.

On October 26th, it was reported that the AFL had sent investigators to West Lakes who had seized records for the investigation. The article says that it expects Tippett to be deregistered by the AFL, and Adelaide to lose draft picks and be fined. The paper also said that the Crows could simply have fitted the $200,000 into the salary cap anyway.

The Age reported that contrary to earlier reports, the investigation did not extend to Kurts brother Joel.

On October 27th, the Age reported that the Crows were expecting not to be part of this years National Draft. It also reported that Tippett had planned to take the AFL to court after the league ordered the Crows not to trade him. Tippets lawyer has claimed that Adelaide induced Tippett to sign a contract that was “misleading and deceptive”.

On October 28th, the Advertiser reported that the Crows would have to face its SANFL owners, as it stood to be in breach of its sub license.

“I am keeping our owner (the SANFL) in the loop. But where we stand (with the sub-licence agreement), I have no idea – because we are still to find out from the AFL if we are in the wrong” – Crows Chairman, Rob Chapman

On October 28th, the AFL website published an article which featured high profile barrister Paul Ehrlich as saying the AFL was asking for trouble, that if someone took it to court it could br crushed

“If in fact the AFL was to deregister Tippett as a penalty there’s an extreme, significant chance it would end up in court. It’s a very serious matter to take a professional athlete’s ability to earn a living away from him because of a breach of a policy which prima facie is unlawful because it’s in restraint of trade.

It’d then be for the AFL to justify that that policy was necessary for the preservation of the game. I don’t know any lawyers that take the view that the AFL restraint would survive a challenge in the courts. This is a multi-billion dollar industry and the AFL has spent tens of millions of dollars in financing new wholly owned franchises … it’s then very difficult to run an argument that the game still requires these restraints to survive.”

On October 30, The AFL revealed that allegations that the Suns had a copy of the letter were false. The Age further speculated that the AFL may be looking into John Reids relationship with the Brisbane Lions.

On November 7, The Advertiser and The Age reported that the SANFL had given its formal backing to the Adelaide football club with the state body unlikely to impose any penalties of its own.

“Everyone makes a mistake or two in their lives, so our football commission will support the Adelaide Football Club through this, we owe it to them. The club has been totally transparent, it has worked hard with the SANFL over the journey, it has had an amazing administration and chairmen from Bob Hammond’s day to Bill Sanders and right through to the current administration. Everyone mucks up in their lifetime, I’m sure of that, so we are saying let the AFL Commission make its decision and then we’ll deal with whatever happens at that time.”

– Leigh Whicker

On November 12, The Advertiser and The Age reported that The AFL formally charged under Player Rule 17 (involving the draft and total player payments) with the Adelaide Crows and Kurt Tippett with the club being order to front the Commission the following Monday.

  • Charge 1: Conduct prejudicial to the draft
  • Charge 2: Conduct in breach of the player payments provisions in the rules

“I have charged the Adelaide Crows Football Club, Adelaide Crows Chief Executive Officer Steven Trigg, former Adelaide Crows General Manager Football Operations John Reid and Adelaide Crows listed-player Kurt Tippett each with the following two charges. The Adelaide Crows FC, Mr Trigg, Mr Reid and Tippett were advised in writing of the charges.

“The Adelaide Crows FC, and each of the three individuals, have been advised their charges will be heard before the full AFL Commission at 1pm”

– Adrian Anderson,

AFL General Manager (Football Operations)

The Age also reported that Tippett had entered a legal claim against Adelaide for inducing him to sign an illegal contract but that the claim was on hold pending the commission hearing next week.

On November 13, The Advertiser (Kurt Tippett threatens to sue Adelaide Crows) reported that legal correspondence had been exchanged between the Tippett camp and the Crows, The Advertiser also reported (Adelaide Crows turn to legal eagles) that the Crows were putting together quite a high powered legal team to face the AFL on Monday.

“We have been speaking to our advisers, we will find the best people to represent us and we will put the best case forward we possibly can next week”

– Crows Chairman, Rob Chapman

On November 14, The Age (New Letter emerges on Tippett) reported the discovery of a new version of the original letter which had been redrafted by Adelaide.The second letter was alleged to have been sent to Tippets management days after the original, and omits the parts concerning what to tell the AFL and the third party $200,000 payment.

The Age also reported that Tippetts manager has evidence that the letters were drafted by the Crows, and not by Tippetts father or management.

Tippett has now reportedly also nominated for the Pre Season Draft.

The Australian also reported (Agent in AFLPA sights) that the AFLPA was preparing to question the Tippetts agent, Peter Bluecher. While the agents actions are understood not to have been a breach of AFL rules, the article alleges that the AFLPA is not pleased with Bluecher at all.

On November 14th, The Advertiser (Balfours linked to Kurt Tippet) named the Balfours bakery group as being involved in the scandal.

On November 15th, The Age (Cooking the books: new charges) revealed that the letter had been sent 3 years after, still signed by Reid, but with changes designed to cover up parts concerning the AFL. The letter evidently implicates Reids replacement at the Crows, Phil Harper.

The Age and The Advertiser (Adelaide Crows burnt in pie fight) also revealed that the Crows diverted $30,000 from a Balfours sponsorship directly to Tippet, authorised by Steven Trigg without the knowledge of the Adelaide board.

On November 16, The Advertiser (Crows muscle up to fight afl charges)  reported that the Crows had appointed four of South Australias top barristers to deal with the AFL. Its alleged that they are all QCs who would cost around 14,000 a day.

The Advertiser also said (Adelaide Crows are back in the game) that the AFL had postponed the hearing scheduled for the 19th, and as a result the Crows would be able to participate in the draft, after fears it would not.

Further the Advertiser (Van Berlo drawn into salary cap scandal) and the Age (Crows captain dragged into salary cap scandal) alleged that the scandal had widened to include the Crows captain, which was angrily denied by his manager.

“Nathan van Berlo is certainly not embroiled in the Kurt Tippett contract dispute with the AFL. I can assure anybody of that” – Manager, Colin Young (Sportsnewsfirst)

The Advertiser reported (Steven Trigg must exit if charges proven) that an anonymous AFL administrator, as well as former Crows Andrew Jarman and Wayne Weiderman, believed that if the charges were proven, Trigg had to step down.

“The club’s image has taken a massive hit, our brand has been trashed and the club’s credibility, which has been built up over 22 years, is gone. Someone has to be thrown under the bus for the mess and it has to be the public face of the club, who is Steven.” – Andrew Jarman

“He’s been very good for the Crows and led from the front on so many issues. But the squeaky clean image of the club has taken a big hit and if the charges laid against him on Monday are proven then he will find himself in trouble. There will probably be a fall guy in all of this and it could very well be Steven” – Wayne Weiderman

On November 17, The Sunday Mail (Adelaide Crows building their case) reported that the Crows were preparing to defend their case before the AFL on 3 counts.

  • The Sunday Mail alleges the actual wording of the clause was that Tippett would be traded for a “minimum second round draft pick”; the clause seeks to set a minimum value rather than a maximum value.
  • Adelaide will argue it rejected a trade of Tippett with Sydney for pick No. 23 and player Jesse White because the club had always sought to find a “fair and reasonable trade” for Tippett.
  • The Crows strongly believe the club remained under the salary cap at all times this season, and that all third-party deals were signed off by the AFL. What is in dispute is how those third-party arrangements were first organised and whether the club played any part in overseeing them. Under AFL Player Rules, the club can do neither.

The Sunday Mail also reported (Tippet saga sticking points) that at issue was allegedly one line in the contract, that may not necessarily imply that the Crows instructed Tippet to keep the deal secret from the AFL.

“This can not be part of the AFL agreement.”

It is alleged by the Sunday Mail that this can simply mean its a third party deal not included in any AFL contract.

The Sunday Mail further reported (Biggest Crisis in Crows history: Sanders) that original Crows General Manager and former Chairman, Bill Sanders believed it was the greatest crisis in the history of the club.

On November 17th, The Age (Crows in draft as probe widens) reported on Van berlo being added to the investigation, while also adding that the Crows would be in the draft due to an extension of the hearing date.

The Age alleged that the AFL had accessed an email from Crows manager Phil Harper that may have steered several players including Van berlo towards Alan Shepherd Constructions, part of the Adelaide Chairmans Coterie Group.

On November 18th, The Advertiser (Tippets name is mud now) quoted an anonymous Crows player as saying he regards Tippet as the greatest villain ever at the Crows, and had left with few friends.

“First he told us he was leaving via text message, rather than face to face, then he went against his word and demanded a trade to Sydney when all along he had told the club he would only leave if it was to go home to Queensland.

Now he is dragging the club’s name through the mud, which has affected the entire playing group.”

– Anonymous Crows Player (The Advertiser)

 

On November 18th, The Age (Galbally queries legal teams) reported that Tippets lawyers were querying the use of the same law firm (Minter Ellison) by the AFL and the Crows. The AFL are using the Melbourne office and the Crows are using the Adelaide office. Neither are apparently bothered by the conflict.
On November 19th, The Advertiser (New date set for Tippet and Crows salary cap hearing) reported that the AFL had set a new date for the hearing after the Crows and their representatives sought more time to prepare for the charges. The hearing is now set for November 30.
The Age (Tippet hearing scheduled November 30) quoted Brendon Sanderson as saying that the whole case should make other clubs nervous.

“I probably shouldn’t comment on other clubs but I’m sure this is going to  make a lot of other clubs nervous, too. There is a lot of greyness surrounding ASAs (additional services agreements)  and how players are paid so probably the other 17 clubs are just double-checking  and ensuring that everything is above board.”

The Advertiser (AFL has shot itself in the foot ) also reported that the Crows believed the changing stance on Chris Judds Visy contract would also work to benefit the Crows as it proved that the AFL constantly moved the goal posts and it might be impossible to really know where the grey areas were in the payment rules. The article quotes an unnamed player agent.
“If you are moving the goalposts how can you expect the Crows or any club to know exactly what the guidelines are? The question must be asked, would those guidelines stand up in court?”The Crows can jump all over this, making their case that it highlights that there are grey areas with the whole issue.”They might be guilty of naivety but I don’t think they’ve deliberately tried to rip anyone off. That should be a key part to the whole investigation and it should result in them getting a lighter penalty.” – anonymous player agent (The Advertiser)
On November 20, The Age (Tippet legal demand to be set free) reported that Tippets lawyer had sent a letter of demand to the AFL to allow Adelaide to delist him immediately before the national draft takes place on Thursday.
The Age also quotes Adrian Anderson as saying that the cancellation of the Judd third party arrangement had nothing to do with the Tippet scandal.
On November 30, The Age reported that the Commission had handed down fines, suspensions and loss of draft picks.
  • Adelaide has been fined $300,000 and prohibited from the first two rounds of  the 2013 draft and from gaining father-son picks at that draft. The club can use  first or second round picks if they are obtained by a trade.
  • Steven Trigg has been fined $50,000 and given 12 months suspension, meaning  he cannot attend games or training or have any dealings with an AFL club.
  • John Reid has been given a similar 12 months suspension.
  • Phil Harper received a two months sentence on the same terms.
  • Kurt Tippett was suspended from the pre-season competition and from 11 AFL  matches, with another 11 matches suspended for five years.

References

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