In a blue Galaxy
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Geelong, Victoria
From the Sunday herald Sun
AFL should give Dockers a free kick
Sunday, December 16, 2001
IN a move which will give thousands of their supporters heart, the Fremantle Dockers last night declared war on the AFL over the Fabian Francis affair.
And so they should.
The club's board met in an atmosphere of crisis yesterday after the AFL ruled on Friday that the club could not select Francis in Tuesday's pre-season draft because it had exceeded the salary cap.
The news was hard to believe. It came at a time when the club was promising much for season 2002. Fremantle had recruited well. There was fresh blood in the form of a new chief executive and coach.
So this spirit of optimism made the AFL's ruling even more devastating for supporters and for Francis, who may now have to end his AFL career unless the mess is sorted out.
Footy fans shook their heads and mused over two possible reasons for the fiasco -- either Fremantle had made a monumental mistake, and someone had to take responsibility for it, or the AFL's figure work was incorrect.
And after an exhaustive examination of their financial books, Fremantle last night declared they were right and the AFL was wrong.
Supporters and sponsors, the lifeline of any AFL club, will breathe a sigh of relief at this latest news. The Dockers now have the job of proving the claim and convincing the AFL to reverse its decision.
In draconian comments more akin to a socialist country than Australia, AFL football operations manager Andrew Demetriou insisted yesterday that Fremantle would not take part in the draft, no matter what it did.
''There is no ground for appeal,'' he said. ''Fremantle will be wasting their time.''
Hang on a minute, Mr Demetriou. This is a democratic country.
At the very least Fremantle should have the right to have its claims heard by the AFL and be given a fair hearing.
Instead, the sorry affair is now almost certain to finish up in the courts.
The AFL decision will reinforce the WA view that the Dockers have had a rough deal since entering the competition in 1995.
The club was never given the scale of concessions which helped the Eagles and Brisbane when they joined the competition.
Now, after finishing on the bottom of the list last season, it's time the AFL gave the Dockers a significant break. This could come in the form of an extension of time so that Fremantle can trim the salaries of other players to bring the club under the cap.
Once they have done that, the club should be allowed to go ahead and draft Francis.
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