Article

AFL´s priority pick rule aided ´tanking´

19 February 2013 12:32

McLachlan announced on Tuesday that the Demons were not guilty of tanking but have been fined $500,000 for the actions of former coach Dean Bailey and former football manager Chris Connolly during the 2009 season that were 'prejudicial to the interests of the AFL'.

Connolly was found guilty of making comments during a football department meeting that put pressure on Bailey to make team-selection decisions in order to earn a priority draft pick.

Bailey was found to have rested members of his playing squad and selected other players out of position to improve Melbourne's chances of earning a priority pick.

"It's not just the resting of players and playing them in different positions because that can be developmental reasons, many other reasons," McLachlan said.

"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 to act in a certain way."

Connolly has accepted a ban from being involved with any AFL club until February 1 2014, while Bailey - now an assistant at the Adelaide Crows - consented to a suspension that will rule him out of coaching for the first 16 rounds of this season.

McLachlan denied the AFL's investigation uncovered any evidence Bailey or any Melbourne players committed less than 100 percent effort to win matches.

The AFL's deputy CEO added that the penalties handed down to Bailey and Connolly were considered in regards to changes to the priority pick rule since 2009, effectively conceding the previous rule had been too much of a temptation.

Under the previous rule, clubs were automatically granted an extra first-round selection if they won fewer than five games in two consecutive seasons, but now the AFL retains the right to grant extra picks on a case-by-case basis.

McLachlan also revealed that Bailey had acted under perceived pressure from Connolly and that this had been taken into account when deciding on the punishment for the Adelaide strategy and innovation coach.

"He made decisions to appease, ultimately, Chris (Connolly) and made decisions around resting players and selections around positional selections of players in that context," McLachlan said.

The suggestion that Connolly was joking when he made comments about avoiding victories to earn a priority pick was seemingly supported by McLachlan as well.

"Chris has accepted that his choice of words were poor and that people took them seriously and responded to them."

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