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Melbourne hit with tanking fine

By Kim Hagdorn
19 February 2013 02:05PM EST

MELBOURNE has been hit with a $500,000 fine and two top level officials banned after an AFL investigation into tanking claims.

Former football operations boss Chris Connolly and coach of the time Dean Bailey have been hit with heavy bans but the league have ruled they did not deliberately lose matches. 

Connolly has been suspended from performing duties at Melbourne and anywhere in the AFL, until February 1 of next year.

The Demons have not been barred from any future drafts.

The famous club has been fined $500,000 after being found guilty by the AFL of alleged tanking in that Connolly instructed Bailey and Demons football department to deliberately manage team selection toward getting vital early draft picks in 2009.

Bailey has been banned from continuing as a match-day assistant-coach at Adelaide until after Round 16 of this year's AFL premiership home-and-away series.

Connolly and Bailey have been banned under league regulations controlling actions prejudicial to interests of the AFL.

Chief executive Cameron Schwab has escaped any penalty despite being Demons boss at the time of the alleged tanking activities in his football department.

The league's sanctions are baffling with bans and a the third biggest fine ever handed down to an AFL club but the ruling is not for tanking.

AFL assistant chief executive Gillon McLachlan handed down penalties to the Demons after a seven-month investigation into the so-called 'tanking' allegations which took place late in season 2009.

McLachlan was adamant the penalties were for breaching league ethics and prejudiced the AFL.

The league's investigation findings appear to clear senior Melbourne officials after Connolly now infamously encouraged football department staff to finish 2009 with less than five wins to secure a priority draft choice.

The investigation centred heavily around instructions and discussions from a meeting at Demons former headquarters at Junction Oval in August of 2009.

McLachlan disclosed that Bailey made selection decisions prejudicial to ethics of the game.

"He felt pressured after that meeting and he made decisions in response to that, resting players and selection of players in certain positions," Mclachlan said.

"Dean Bailey felt pressure to act in that way and that he was feeling pressure for his job.

"There is no evidence that supports full clarity that on match day that he did anything but to try and win the game and all players tried to win the games." 

McLachlan revealed that the heavy penalty slammed on Connolly was after the league's investigation uncovered direct evidence that the former Demons football department chief instructed Bailey to lose games for Melbourne to secure a priority draft pick in 2009.

"It is not just the resting of players and playing them in different positions. That can be for development reasons," McLachlan explained.

"There is an admission here that it was done to secure a priority pick. 

"Chris Connolly asked the coaching staff to do things and the coaching staff felt pressured in a certain way.

"That nexus is critical to the this decision."

McLachlan revealed that 58 interviews had been conducted by investigators through the extensive inquiry which launced last August after explosive allegations from former Demons player Brock McLean.

McLean confessed on Fox Footy's On the Couch that he left Melbourne because of his concerns that certain matches in 2009 had not been played on true merits an attempts to win games.

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