Caroline Wilson has urged AFL.com.au journalist Mitch Cleary to consider a role with a new employer in the wake of the league’s “incredibly heavy-handed” dealing of Richmond captain Trent Cotchin’s wife’s hub breach.
Cleary was stood down by the AFL after he shared an Instagram post by Brooke Cotchin which showed she had broken the league’s quarantine bubble to attend a day spa.
According to a Herald Sun report, the AFL considered Cleary primarily as an employee of the company, overriding his duties as a journalist. The AFL directly ordered that Cleary be stood down.
This afternoon the AFL released a statement explaining that decision and confirming Cleary had since been reinstated.
Cotchin joined her husband in Queensland last week as part of a cohort of partners and families who relocated to the AFL hub in a bid to keep the season alive.
But the saga has given way to a sense of outrage among fellow journalists and pundits alike who, like Wilson, were baffled by the league’s handling of the situation.
“Incredibly heavy-handed by the AFL to stand down Mitch Cleary,” Wilson told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“They say this had been an editorial decision. I gather that no one working for AFL.com.au were actually aware of this editorial decision.
“It was a decision made by the legal boss Andrew Dillon, that’s fair enough they made that decision. I don’t think all the journos knew.
“Should Mitch Cleary should have checked? Maybe he should have. I don’t see why putting something out on Twitter when it’s been discussed so generally (is a problem).
“I think it’s laughable that you don’t name the people involved when they’ve cost their clubs $20,000, particularly when it’s the captain’s wife, and they themselves have put it on social media.
“Mitch Cleary, who is a serious journo and a news-breaker, I don’t really know why he’s working for AFL.com.au. I guess they pay well. But if I was him, I would think very seriously about where I work in future.
“I look at Damien Barrett who is one of the best in the business…he’s written a story that was not run because of some issues the AFL had issue with it, and I think that’s real problem.”
Following the controversy surrounding the AFL’s decision to stand down Cleary, Richmond coach Damien Hardwick revealed that the Cotchins were remorseful.
“I am not going to lie, it’s been tough on them. But as Trent and Brooke do, they accept accountability and responsibility. They did it, they were at fault. It’s been tough on them,” he said.
“The situation is, we live and learn. Everyone is up here trying to do the right thing but the reality is, mistakes are going to be made. I think everyone is going to put their best foot forward as best they can but we have just got to understand sometimes people are going to get things wrong.
“It’s not through any fault of their own. They just made an innocent mistake. We are supportive of them and we understand they have accepted responsibility and are prepared to move on pretty quickly. From our point of view, it’s end of story.”