The AFL’s off-season is again being overwhelmed by the Essendon supplements saga; this time it’s the AFL boss Andrew Demetriou that’s feeling the heat.
Demetriou has been unequivocal in his statements that Essendon coach James Hird is not being paid while on a negotiated 12 month suspension from the game.
When media reports emerged that Hird was being paid, Demetriou denied it. Essendon, however, offered a mere “no comment”.
Yesterday James Hird’s wife Tania told Melbourne media “of course he’s being paid, that’s the deal”.
It’s not the first time Demetriou has been caught short on the Essendon developments.
In September The Australian’s Chip Le Grand wrote a piece speculating that a deal had been done with Essendon club doctor Bruce Reid who was taking the AFL to court to clear his name.
Demetriou went on the attack and launched a personal attack on Le Grand, claiming no such deal was on the cards.
He told 3AW host Neil Mitchell the report was “another piece of garbage written by Chip Le Grand, who didn’t bother to ring us up for a comment yesterday”.
“He’s been wrong throughout the whole Essendon saga, he’s wrong again and he ought to pick up the phone and ring someone at the AFL and get a comment rather than writing garbage.”
Within a couple of days it emerged the report was correct and a deal had been done with Reid and the court case had been dropped.
When Le Grand reported last week that Hird was being paid, Demetriou again went for the straight denial.
“I can categorically tell you that part of the sanction from the AFL is that he is suspended without pay from the Essendon Football Club,” he told 3AW.
“It is one thing I will go to my grave on. I know 100 per cent the AFL is not paying and I know that Essendon is not paying.”
The journalist stuck to his guns. “Certainly as of today he is being paid by Essendon as he has been paid all the way through,” Le Grand told 3AW last Wednesday.
“As far as his pay arrangements with the club, they haven’t changed in any way through the course of this supplements scandal.”
Tania Hird then dropped Demetriou and the AFL right in it.
She says Demetriou has known all along that her husband is being paid during his 12-month ban.
Hird’s punishment was part of the club’s penalties – which included a $2 million fine and being banned from this year’s finals – for its controversial 2012 supplements program.
On Wednesday, Tania Hird told News Corp that her husband agreed to a sanction with pay in lieu of taking the AFL to court.
“Of course he’s being paid, that was the deal,” she said.
“Andrew Demetriou knew it, the AFL knew it.”
Tania Hird also accused the AFL of “threatening” her husband and the Bombers and wants the governing body to “stop distorting the truth”.
The AFL’s top man now has a credibility problem.
Pressure is now building for full disclosure of who did what deal and when in the so-called settlement of the supplements saga.
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