The ongoing saga of Kurt Tippett’s AFL career has been well-publicised. There are rumours of potential fines, suspensions and even the worst case scenario for his football career – deregistration.
The severity the AFL chooses to leverage will no doubt be dependent upon the levels of the crimes – according to their code of conduct – that he has committed. Is it simply the ‘gentleman’s agreement’, or did he also receive extra cash payments that were undeclared in his salary cap?
If the former, then one would presume that a blocked trade from Adelaide, and forced passage into the draft, might be deemed punishment enough. Clearly, this is not the case.
Tippett remains in limbo; not only was Adelaide prevented from trading him – and lost the right to any compensation for the loss of one of their most highly paid players – but it has also been denied the right to delist him.
If Tippett were delisted, he would then be classified as an unrestricted free agent and be capable of moving to any AFL club that he wished, no doubt resulting him ending up with his preferred choice of the current reigning premiers, Sydney. This isn’t the outcome the AFL wants.
Whether or not third-party agreements exist in various forms in AFL clubs throughout the country, player and his manager acting like free agents, and essentially holding a club to ransom, isn’t a good look for the game.
There is no argument that Adelaide did not act in good faith with its arrangement with Peter Blucher, and in turn Kurt Tippett. If there is one certainty from the fallout of this scandal, it must be that Blucher is no longer allowed to represent AFL players, at least for a period of 12 months.
It is his responsibility to get the best deal for his client, and he is either incompetent or merely greedy when he shook hands on an agreement outside of the terms of the player’s contract that was lodged with the AFL. For their part, Adelaide signed a player for three years under false pretences and also should have known better. At the very least, the punishment the Crows have received so far is fitting – losing the player they unethically re-signed in 2009.
It seems unlikely that, unless there were breaches of the salary cap, which can be proved by the deadlines of November 22nd (the National Draft) or December 13th (the Pre-Season and Rookie Draft), Tippett will face deregistration over the ‘gentleman’s agreement’. The AFL would not want a lengthy legal battle on its hands, which is what it will get if they attempt to prevent Tippett from playing next year. While those at the AFL are certain that their rules stand up to scrutiny in the highest courts of Australia, they’ve never actually been tested.
Suspension of Tippett seems likely. Perhaps this will artificially force his value on the open market down and place any of the clubs above Sydney in the draft well within the financial range to be able to afford him. With Greater Western Sydney coach Kevin Sheedy’s mischievous question of “Wonder what he would look like in orange?”, and with no public access to the exact figures that AFL players are paid, what remains is guesswork.
Question marks hover over the price Tippett is capable of setting as a base figure for his contract, and which AFL clubs will be able to afford him, and furthermore, which AFL clubs would be prepared to take a risk with him. Even beyond the contractual, and cultural issues that must come into a question with a player, who has acted as disingenuously as he has – from always stating that he would only ever leave Adelaide to return ‘home’, to then attempting to justify Sydney as home, as he lived there for two months of his life – there is also the issue of Kurt Tippett’s health.
He missed four games due to concussion, and arguably, until Adelaide’s Preliminary Final appearance against Hawthorn, did not come close to reaching the statistics of his breakout year in 2009 that placed such pressure upon the Adelaide Football Club to re-sign him.
Chances are that, given the draft order and the potential of a player of Kurt Tippett’s ilk, Kevin Sheedy’s cheeky proposition could become a reality, and 2013 will see the young forward dressed in resplendent orange, close enough to the Harbour city, but further away from a premiership than he could have ever imagined.