The Tippett saga

Well, the Tippett Saga just keeps rolling on. Today The Age has reported that Adelaide might be in trouble for a much reported and often denied ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to facilitate Tippett’s move to the club of his choice at the conclusion of his contract. The whole situation just gets dirtier and dirtier.

This saga brings up so many issues:
– In this day and age of competition equity, how can the reigning Premier go and sign a high profile key forward on a million bucks a year a week after winning the flag?
– How can Sydney then refuse to trade any of its first choice players to obtain this player and get away with it?
– How can a player be allowed to manipulate the system so that they can stipulate a club of choice and name a price that only that club can pay?
– At what point is a verbal agreement recognised as formal by the AFL?

This whole situation has exposed some serious flaws in the AFL’s much championed system of equity. My opinion is that the salary, draft & trade concessions that have been granted to the expansion clubs have forever compromised this system. We now have players that think they are worth more than they are, clubs that think they should get more in compensation than they receive, and a precedent of stretching the rules to their absolute maximum (and further in some cases) to get what is wanted. For the price of expansion and ultimately increased income, the core values of the game in the AFL are disintegrating.

As an Adelaide supporter, when Tippett first announced his move I was angry. When he announced that he wanted to move to the reigning premier in Sydney instead of his home state of QLD I was furious. As the trade period has progressed I have felt increasingly disenchanted by the whole AFL administration and the systems that have put in place. After the latest news today I am just incredibly sad and disappointed that after such a successful and promising year, Adelaide’s 2012 season and possibly the next few years will now be tainted by this whole saga. To think that only a month ago Adelaide were a kick away from the a GF and on the cusp of something great.

Angry, furious, disenchanted, sad, disappointed. Perhaps they should be the taglines of the Gillette Trade Period.

About Ben Footner

I'm tragic Crows fan, avid lawn bowler, public librarian and father of 2 little kiddies. Sometimes I also find time amongst all that to squeeze out the occasional article for the Almanac.


  1. Feel your pain Ben. I also thought it was the mantra of the Swans that they have a team of equals, no big payments to stars, so from that perspective, it’s all a bit odd (if that’s true). And after the fabulous year the Crows have had, it must be terribly disappointing that this is the focus, and not the fact that you guys almost made the GF. Love the new taglines of the Gillette Trade Period. My uncle worries that we’ve lost the experience of Goddard and picked up young players who aren’t proven yet, and the Saints have a history of losing players who then go on and get premierships or play well with someone else: Lockett, Hall, Ball were the ones he mentioned. Hall gets a Grand Final and Premiership with Swans and Ball with Collingwood.

    On the other hand, we did get Saad and Milera through the systems last year and they make me smile, even if Saad has to reduce the time he takes.

    Sydney just have to hope Tippett doesn’t suffer to many more concussions too.

    Be well


  2. Andrew Weiss says

    No need to get too frustrated Ben. I think you are better off without Tippett. He will not be the difference between the Crows winning a flag or not. As a Brisbane supporter I am just glad he is not coming to us if his price tag of $800,000 is correct. What a waste of money considering one more decent knock to the head and that could be game over for him.

    What I would like you to consider as well is this hypothetical: Let’s say Bryce Gibbs during 2013 says he wants to play somewhere else preferably in Qld in 2014 and then at the end of the year nominates the Crows as his team of choice. Will all the Crows administartors and supporters say that you don’t want to get him because it would make a mockery of the trade system. I think not!!

  3. Ben Footner says

    Interesting angle Andrew, it’s true I wouldn’t be sad if a player of Gibbs calibre chose Adelaide in similar circumstances. That said I would hope that my club would deal fairly and appropriately with Carlton during negotiations.

    I guess my laments are not directly related to the Tippett case, more that this off field stuff now takes so much away from what it’s all about, that is the game of aussie rules football.

    All I know is that a month ago I was revelling in my team taking it up to the best, and heading for a bright future. That might still be the case, but this whole saga has certainly taken a far bit of the gloss off it.

    I don’t pay my membership to watch players, recruiters & CEO’s squabble like seagulls over a chip for a month. I pay my membership to see Dangerfield bust 3 tackles and stream through the middle, or big Tex drill the game changer from outside 50.

    Dunno, I’m just rambling now, but I’m not a happy chappy at the moment.

  4. Ben – the Swans can get him because they still get extra salary cap concessions. Its an absurdity

  5. If the Swans pay the $800 large that he is asking, I’d suggest you could mount a sound argument that they are not the winners in this deal.

  6. I think the trade period this year has been the best ever, and free agency has been an outstanding success. Win/Wins all round. Yvette’s Uncle might be aggrieved at losing Goddard – but he’s losing the 2011/12 aimless wanderer not the 09/10 star.
    Tell him he’s losing a son, but gaining a more motivated daughter in law.
    The only sour note for mine is the Tippett soapie.
    Ben – you are right to be angry, but it is all the fault of the Crows’ management, not the AFL. The trade rules are imperfect, but much better than the cheque book open slather of the 80’s.
    By giving Tippett a free ticket out in his previous contract the Crows both guaranteed that he would walk next time, and perverted the checks and balances in the Trade regulations to make it hard for a player to go wherever he wants with no reasonable compensation to the club.
    You are like the British in Singapore in WW2 Ben. Your guns are pointed out to sea, when they should be directed inland.

  7. Ben Footner says

    My laments include my own club Peter, it’s all a sordid and dirty affair.

    That said, I reckon there’s still some consternation over the validity of this ‘contract clause’ Peter.

    My read on this situation is that Adelaide & Tippett’s management have differing views on this ‘agreement’ and that is what is holding back a trade. Adelaide are jack of it and have gone to the AFL for intervention.

  8. Pamela Sherpa says

    Interesting perception of the situation Ben. My impression is that the Crows have confessed before they were pinged by the AFL rather than going to them for help.

  9. Earl O'Neill says

    Great line, ‘Gillette trade period’.
    AFC might have stayed mute had Kurt gone to Brisbane or GC but losing him to the premiers was just a bit too much for them to handle, regardless of the club. So they’ve ‘fessed up in order to screw him. Poor form, they agreed to the deal, should stick by it.

  10. Can understand your anger, Ben.
    What I can’t understand is the degree of hypocrisy displayed by the AFL, who have manipulated and been privy to many under the table agreements – gentlemanly or otherwise.

  11. Ben Footner says

    One thing is for sure, this is one hell of a mess. The Adelaide Football Club will forever rue the day that they recruited Kurt Tippett, even if they escape from this situation with minimal penalty.

  12. I wonder if the purported Tippet ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ had a restraint of trade covenant. If not then both parties may be free to do what they want; unless of course the power of the AFL usurps Australian restrictive trade legislation.

  13. I think I object to the words “Tippett”, “Adelaide Football Club” or “Adelaide player” and gentleman in the same sentence

    Could the legal people claim that the absence of a gentlemen in a gentleman’s agreement means the clause in question is considered null and void?


  14. Ken Richards says

    Chin up Ben.

    It may be that Mr Tippett will be going nowhere, least of all to the salary cap rich premiers. The secret nature of the deal does not reflect well on any of the parties involved.

    Sydney’s extra cap of course, should be distributed proportionally among the entire list, to prevent it being misused to lure players with offers they cannot refuse.

  15. Many years back I had a “Gentleman’s Agreement” to pay off the bookies. In my experience such an agreement always relates to an illegality or impropriety that one does not wish the “authorities” to know about. Whether they be the law, the governing body, or in my case the long suffering wife.
    That is why such “agreements” are never written down. Both parties know they are doing something illegal or improper when they enter into them. That is why they are never written down to offer an easy evidence trail.
    At the Almanac I thought we prided ourselves on calling a spade a spade. This “GA” is a Dodgy Brothers scam to hide the stolen property in the hope it would never be discovered.
    The AFL has done nothing wrong, they were deceived by signed contracts that both participants knew were not the full story. The Crows should lose all next year’s draft picks, and Tippet should be fined $100K.
    Right, now I’m off to have a lie down as I’m feeling “tired and emotional”. I stepped down from my previous position because “I wanted to see more of my family”. Good to see we are all “moving forward” together.

  16. Disagree, Peter. The AFL do almost everything wrong.
    Could a GA be called a GA contract (re. the AFL’s arrangements/contracts with a certain ex-Geelong player)?

  17. Jen, the contract format that all players and clubs use has a clause to the effect that “you confirm that this contract fully discloses all agreements, conditions, payments etc”.
    The Crows and Tippett clearly knew they were not doing this. Its called fraud.
    How can the AFL be expected to know what is being intentionally hidden from them???
    Any man-made system of rules, checks and balances is by its nature imperfect. But it is better than the 1980’s cheque book system by which John Elliott bought players and premierships at will.
    So clubs and players that knowingly defraud the contract/draft system deserve strong punishment.

  18. With ‘Rake’ now in the clink we could with a bright young incorruptable mind like yours PB.

  19. Oops, sorry PB. I forgot you hand gropers were a day behind us out east. Sorry to spoil your viewing. You do watch the ABC I hope.

  20. Peter, you cite a clause that the AFL appear to have ignored. The lack of transparency around free agency, where the AFL hold the information around trades close to their chest, begs a reversal of your question: how can CLUBS be expected to know what is being intentionally hidden from them?
    I am not convinced that those who manage the sport are motivated by fairness or honesty, nor do they appear to have shifted their behaviours far from the cheque book days of footy.

  21. Ben Footner says

    This situation is getting more ridiculous by the second. Adelaide have always worked with honesty and integrity, so until the facts come out at this stage I will reserve my judgement.

    That said, if allegations are true that Steven Trigg and John Reid cooked this one up without the Club Board’s knowledge, I will be very angry. Again. If not furious. Again. Not to mention disenchanted, sad, and disappointed. Again.

    Gees I hate it when the game and club I love is tainted by off field crap like this.

  22. Come over to the Cats Ben. Integrity oozes from our every pore.

  23. That could be ‘paw’

  24. This is the story that keeps on giving. Tippett to be deregistered for a year. Adelaide to lose draft picks for a couple of years. Judas Trigg – the man who sold out Matt Rendell (the only honest man in footy) – for AFL trinkets and beads to suck up to the Great Helmsman. Now Judas gets hoisted on his own sanctimonious petard. And a bit of lead in Sanderson’s saddlebags for the new season (second up syndrome I reckon – flattened and flattered by the first up run for the new trainer).
    Whats not to like???

  25. Pamela Sherpa says

    And now the younger brother has been mentioned as well- this drama should keep us all going until the pre- season comp starts!

  26. The AFL management must be very happy that the focus is on Adelaide’s and Sydney’s dealings and not on their own.

  27. Emma Quayle’s article in today’s age reflects a very sad state of affairs where player ownership / management, through jack boot policy by the AFL over the last couple of decades, has become a shambles.

    I have children in strong relationships. If they end up having male children with much more ability I ever did I suppose that even before consideration, let alone conception they are chattels of the cancer that is the AFL should they play footy.

    What a joke.

  28. Pamela Sherpa says

    Phantom – it’s the nature of professional sport. Things usually get nasty when winning and money is all that matters .

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