OK. So if the AFL says the Melbourne Demons didn’t tank, then I guess they didn’t tank. Phew. That’s a relief.

It's just a coincidence there's a red and blue circle on the side. Pic: AFP

It’s great news that Melbourne didn’t deliberately lose games in 2009 to secure top draft picks for the following season. That’d be really serious and people would have to be punished.

Never mind that the AFL did punish people yesterday. The Melbourne footy club was fined half a million bucks, while its former coach Dean Bailey and football manager Chris Connolly were both suspended.

But they weren’t punished for tanking. Oh, no. As the AFL announced yesterday, its seven month forensic investigation found absolutely no evidence of tanking.

Say those words again: forensic investigation. You can just see that redhead guy from CSI Miami hovering over the Melbourne footy club computers with his head cocked and a little dust brush in his hands.

You don’t argue with a forensic investigation. If CSI AFL found no evidence of tanking, then there was no tanking. As the AFL’s mini-Demetriou, Gillon McLachlan, said yesterday:

“There is no allegation that is able to be sustained that Dean Bailey didn’t coach on his merits or any players didn’t play to their utmost abilities”.

There it is, then. For the last time, tanking never happened.

Which just leaves one question. Why, exactly, did the AFL go medieval on the Demons, Bailey and Connolly?

According to McLachlan “Connolly has accepted he went into a football department meeting and he made a terrible and stupid decision in the context of an AFL rule that has now changed (priority draft picks) and in the context of a pressure and expectation of success.

“He [Connolly] made a comment regarding the performance of the team, a desire to secure a priority pick, and I know he now regrets that comment,” McLachlan continued.

So Connolly has now been outed for a year for having a conversation. And Bailey has copped a long spell for “bowing to pressure and making decisions in regards to selection and player management”.

All of which, said CSI AFL, added up to “conduct unbecoming”.

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear the duo were punished for conspiring to put an even less competitive team on the field than the usual Demons rabble.

But no. We know that didn’t happen because that would have amounted to tanking. And CSI AFL assures us there’s been nothing like that going on.

Why on earth would anyone doubt them?


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    • acotrel says:

      05:35am | 20/02/13

      Too much football ruins our approach to politics by destroying our capacity for rational thought . Everyone wants to be a winner, but what does ‘winning’ lead us to if the leader is a jerk ?

    • Levi says:

      07:28am | 20/02/13

      Oh Acotrel do elaborate….who on earth could you be talking about?

      “leader is a jerk” - oh yes of course it’s Julia Gillard and her squad of baboons. They’re supposed to be in charge but the way they run the place is embarrasing.

    • marley says:

      07:37am | 20/02/13

      “Too much football ruins our approach to politics b destroying our capacity for rational thought.”

      So does too much motorcycle racing, apparently.

    • Michael S says:

      08:21am | 20/02/13

      “Too much football?”

      There’s no such thing.

    • dovif says:

      10:03am | 20/02/13


      Julia is a Full Forward for an AFL club afterall and Rudd is still PM

    • Mahhrat says:

      05:53am | 20/02/13

      In other news, the Demons have hired Bill Clinton’s press team.

    • Steve says:

      06:23am | 20/02/13

      AFL - less a sporting code, more a cartel of entertainment providers (previously known as clubs).

    • dovif says:

      10:05am | 20/02/13

      I agree

      Why do we even talk about a code, which is playing only in a small corner of Australia and nowhere else in the world?

    • Michael S says:

      10:23am | 20/02/13

      @Dovif : Why do we even talk about a code, which is playing only in a small corner of Australia and nowhere else in the world?”

      Maybe because a significant portion of The Punch’s readership lives in that small corner of Australia.

    • dovif says:

      11:38am | 20/02/13


      Victorians and their 20% of Australian population always over state their importance to Australia and the world. It is really just the 4th most important state in Australia

    • Someone says:

      11:51am | 20/02/13

      @Dovif - Firstly, a large portion of the Australian population live in places AFL is played and therefore is relevant to many.

      Secondly, in terms of average attendances the AFL is the 4th largest sporting league in the world. It’s not quite as insignificant as you think.

      Thirdy, what is this stupid Australian attitude that we can only follow one sporting code? A lot of us are intelligent people and have the capacity to be interested in more than one thing, these codes don’t need to compete with each other for our attention…

    • RRB says:

      01:16pm | 20/02/13

      @dovif. And which code do you follow? You neglected to tell us that.

    • JTO says:

      02:12pm | 20/02/13

      Ah the famous Australian cultural cringe. We are only allowed to like something if someone in another country decides they like it first. Just pathetic.

    • Michael S says:

      03:03pm | 20/02/13

      The “AFL should be discounted because it’s only played in part of one country” mentality usually comes from soccer people.

      The follow-up will probably be along the lines of “It’s acceptable to light flares and rip up seats because passion is not a crime, and to suggest otherwise is to be part of the Great Anti-Sockah Conspiracy; because the media is evil and all cops are bastards”.

    • gobsmack says:

      06:42am | 20/02/13

      The AFL adopted a narrow view of tanking as meaning deliberate action by the coach and/or players on the day to lose a game of football.

      In the AFL’s view ‘tanking’ does not include the selection of less competitive teams knowing that doing so would make victory less likely.

      As Rohan Connolly has pointed out, that wider definition could encompass such situations as a team that has secured a finals spot resting its top players in the final home and away round (which has occurred the last few years) or a team that, having no chance of reaching the finals, embarking on a course of rebuilding by “blooding” new and younger players.

    • Borderer says:

      08:28am | 20/02/13

      I agree, it’s a hard one to prove and nobody is going to put things in writing.
      Examples such as players having surgery for injuries early to improve recovery time for the next season.
      The big danger for clubs is pissing off the fans and dropping attendances for such games. Nobody goes into work on a Monday and say “It was a great game, they really handed us our arses, can’t wait to be flogged next week…”

    • Michael S says:

      10:27am | 20/02/13

      Under the wider definitions, the Australian cricket team tanked the WACA Test, the one-day series against Sri Lanka and the T20 against the West Indies.

    • Arnold Layne says:

      07:12am | 20/02/13

      I’d have thought tanking involved the players not giving their best efforts, and there’s no evidence that Bailey or Connolly ever told the players not to try.  What they DID do was pick less competitive teams and play players out of position, thus decreasing the likelihood that the team would win.  You can call it manipulation of the system in order to obtain higher draft picks, exploiting a poorly constructed set of rules that allowed a situation like this to become manifest or whatever you like but I can see why it’s not considered to be ‘tanking’. 

      Dodgy practice and I’m glad they’ve been done for it, but tanking would incriminate the players too, so I’m glad in a way that the decision doesn’t do that. 

      The most galling thing of all for Demons supporters though must be that the strategy hasn’t worked.  Tom Scully has gone to GWS and the team is still a mess with a weak list

    • Levi says:

      07:23am | 20/02/13

      Because another scandal would look bad for the fairies in the aerial ping pong league and undermine their attempts to take the crown of most watched sport on Australian TV from the NRL. Their monolithic, business like outlook on sport is humorous to watch.

    • asss676@live.com.au says:

      08:09am | 20/02/13

      Compare AFL attendance figures to NRL attendance figures.

    • Ruminations from the Hill @ Brookie says:

      09:05am | 20/02/13

      I guess for Levi it’s hard to appreciate more than one sport when you think the number that comes after 5 is “Kick!”...

      Perhaps it’s not AFL that’s monolithic, but you that’s moronic…?

    • Bomb78 says:

      10:45am | 20/02/13

      AFL attendance figures are a smokescreen - if the Queensland Reds were an AFL team, last year they would have been sixth for average crowds, and they are hardly a big deal in the scope of Australian sports teams. So 13 AFL teams drew less than a team from the fourth biggest football competition in the country.
      The TV deal is similar - the AFL’s deal is worth more money, but it also produces significantly more game time for TV - per minute of TV time the NRL got more money.
      The AFL has been made to look good for the last 10 years by the incompetence of the NRL. The moment the NRL gets half as good as the AFL it will be the top dog.
      Now to the issue at hand - I’ve always liked the way the NBA does it’s draft lottery. Finishing last doesn’t get you the first pick, but only the best chance at getting the first pick. That takes some of the incentive away from ‘tanking’.
      And just perhaps the NRL has lucked out in respect to the draft. Without a draft, for the 13 premierships awarded by the NRL, there have been 9 different winners. The last 13 AFL premierships have been won by 8 different teams. In the past I’ve always been a fan of the AFL salary cap and draft combination, but I find it less attractive over time.

    • Watcher says:

      12:19pm | 20/02/13

      Here comes the NRL is bigger on tv lie! A top AFL player earns 2 mil a year. A top NRL player, 600k? Keep fooling yourselves NRL is professional. 20 years ago your arguments might have been valid. AFL is now miles ahead and the gap will only grow.

    • PW says:

      06:30pm | 20/02/13

      Why do we have to have this Rugby League vs Aussie Rules shit. They are both good games. Neither is any sort of threat to the other. One is more suited to TV and the other more suited to watching live. You lot look like a bunch of two year olds in a pre-school having a food fight.

    • Big Jay says:

      07:25am | 20/02/13

      Don’t the AFL have their own media organisation now (as in, presentation/publishing not message management)?...I’m they’ll be just as factual and independant as this forensic investigation was….pffft

      I love my footy (thats NRL, union, and AFL) but we have get over this god-like worshipping of these organisations. Especially when they care more about getting new fans, rather than life-long fans who already enjoy the game.

    • Tator says:

      07:42am | 20/02/13

      Essendon Football Club found not guilty of breaches of WADA regs, fined $1 million and a member of the Adelaide Football Club coaching staff is suspended for a year.

    • Lance says:

      08:11am | 20/02/13

      The AFL will NOT punish Essendon.

    • S.L says:

      08:07am | 20/02/13

      YAWN! A yarn from south of the Murray again.
      Oh that’s right footy season is nearly upon us!
      I can believe they didn’t think the Demons (if you say Melbourne I think of the Storm) weren’t tanking as much as the B/S the AFL dish out every year about their participation figures.

    • Michael S says:

      08:20am | 20/02/13

      I know you did something wrong, but I can’t prove it. Even if I could prove it, it’s not actually illegal. But I’ll punish you harshly anyway.
      Interesting logic from the AFL on this one.

    • Rose says:

      09:54am | 20/02/13

      The outcome of this just goes to show you really can’t trust the AFL to be fair and impartial in investigating their own. Melbourne as found not guilty of tanking and, if that is what was truly the case, they should have walked away without penalty. If tanking did occur, it should have been outed and punished properly.
      “Conduct unbecoming” and the regularly trotted out “bringing the game into disrepute” are bullshit offences that seem to actually mean “you didn’t do anything really wrong by our rules but we must be seen to be doing something”.
      This whole saga has cast the AFL in a poor light and only the truly blinkered will believe the outcome had anything to do with justice.

    • Punters Pal says:

      10:14am | 20/02/13

      I have to say that I have serious reservations about Gillon McLachlan bloke. He looked like a rabbit in headlights yesterday trying to explain how Melbourne didn’t tank and how they just got fined $500,000.

      Same thing happened last week when he lied outright to the media (by telling that AFL was only sport in Australian which had the drugs policy) and trying to spin his way out about Essendon’s WADA / ACC problem. The guy is accident waiting to happen. I wonder why he is pushed into front, previously Demetirou would have been announcing these things. Is Demetriou stepping down?

    • Sickemrex says:

      10:26am | 20/02/13

      I love how we can just go around redefining words now. Tanking. Cheating. Misogyny. Let’s just make words mean or not mean whatever suits our narrative from now on. Grrrrr.

    • WillyJilly says:

      10:30am | 20/02/13

      Let’s be honest.

      Australian sport is currently severely lacking in credibility.

      Olympic Swimmers carrying on like they’re off to a music festival.

      Australian sport found to be balls deep in drugs and corruption in an investigation by our own government!

      Australians have been watching so much EPL we have forgotten how to pick a cricket team and seem obsessed with ‘rotation.’

      AFL rules that a team who very clearly have been tanking, haven’t.

      Damien Oliver punts on his own race and still has a career in the sport.

      Tom Waterhouse is now the Wallabies official spokesperson judging by the ARU’s email newsletters

      Home and Away Ashes series we are likely to brutalised in.

      Anthony Mundine - net worth = $20m

      It’s an unholy mess of epic proportions. I’m done.

    • NikRaf of Victoria says:

      10:45am | 20/02/13

      Did the A.F.L tank on tanking ??

    • Freddykaboodle says:

      10:48am | 20/02/13

      More evidence the AFL is farcical, more ‘Managed’ outcomes to suit the “party’ line, what a joke. NO tanking but a fine. A $500k dollar fine, which is actually nothing, because Melbourne are “propped’ up by the AFL anyway. Whats the bet the next installment will be upped to pay the fine. No real penalty for the Demons, and a previous writer is correct, Essendon will be found to have done nothing wrong. Woe betide the next team not based in Melbourne to breach the Demetriou manifesto though, they’ll throw the book at them. Hypocrites, Love footy, hate AFL.

    • FJ says:

      11:55am | 20/02/13

      The AFL is the most corrupt sport on the planet.

      The NRL dodged a bullet in missing out on the AFL deputy as his press conference yesterday showed he is amateur at best.

      How anyone can follow this corrupt sport has got me stuffed. It’s a disgrace.

    • Chillin says:

      12:09pm | 20/02/13

      Stick to dominoes petal.

    • StuieG says:

      11:56am | 20/02/13

      You can’t expect team to act the same way when they don’t care if they win the game or not. Could you imagine what the fans would say if a coach played a top player in a game that didn’t matter who had a niggle injury or played them “hard” and then they seriously hurt themselves. There would be an uproar. When you don’t care about winning and losing is to your benefit it is a perfect time to blood new players and to change up some positions. Players over the years have been given new life in a position that they never normally play, seems like a good chance to test it out to me.

      Hell I’d be interested to see Buddy play Ruck or Darren Glass play full forward ! smile

      Do they do it on purpose to increase their chance of losing, probably. But if it’s in the rules and their not telling their players to “chuck” the game I say go cry somewhere else.

    • Bear says:

      12:21pm | 20/02/13

      Vic the ‘4th’ state? Is that because nsw is 1-3? Typical inverted Sydney twats.

    • aka anon says:

      12:37pm | 20/02/13

      Demetriou is well past his use by date. AFL is frustratingly managed and biased towards the big clubs. AFL is the most inconsistent game decided by umpires who have no feel for the game. The game of AFL is the most frustrating sport to watch because of the ever changing rules. The worst rule is penalizing the ball player trying to win the ball in a pack of players just to speed the game up for television. Yet, typical AFL style, Demetriou and his cohorts says the game is too fast because of high interchanges and now decide to limit that.

      How about getting rid of the rule to penalize ball players and have the umpires throw it up? This will slow the game a little bit and help with fatigue players suffer during play, especially with interchanges being limited in future.

      I no longer passionately follow the game like I did since Demetriou’s reign. In SA crowd figures are dropping off at AFL games because no one wants to pay to be frustrated by inconsistencies.

      As a Crow supporter I’m holding my breath that Tex Walker’s well thoughtout tweet about AFL inconsistencies doesn’t upset the ego of Demetriou and result in some pathetic payback penalty.

      They say Football(soccer) is the beautiful game and I reckon after this last fiasco with Melbourne not guilty of anything but fined heavily anyway and with Bailey and Connolly suspended for ridiculous amount of time,.... AFL is the frustration game.

    • Sam says:

      12:59pm | 20/02/13


    • Shane* says:

      03:31pm | 20/02/13

      For the thousandth (millionth?) time, the AFL can learn something from the NBA.

      A lottery. No guarantee of priority picks. Finish last, and you’re likely (but not guaranteed) a good pick.

      Now everyone shut up, the Celtics are playing (and losing!)

    • Tator says:

      06:47pm | 20/02/13

      Still yearning for the glory days of the late 60’s and early 80’s when Bill Russell and Larry Bird ruled.  You got one championship a couple of years ago but the Bulls are back and will get even better once Derrick Rose gets back on court.

    • stephen says:

      05:35pm | 20/02/13

      Sometimes, AFL players wear black armbands to express remorse, (well, I think that’s the reason), but I’d like to get one for Demetriou to wear round his neck.
      This whole episode is a cover-up, and now you’d have to wonder what else previously has been swept under the carpet.

      What should happen now is that the TV Station who has the programming rights - I think it is 7 - should exercize its own good commercial judgement and demand that the game cough up its cheats and guilty administrators, and expel them.


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