Furious Eddie calls for removal of hub rule-breakers

Footballers and their families in Queensland are under more scrutiny amid reports of yet another club breach.

This week 400 family members of AFL players – many from Victorian hot spots – arrived on the Gold Coast to be close to their nearest and dearest for the coming rounds held in the ‘Sunshine State’.

The Queensland government permitted the special entry of Victorian teams and their families to allow the 2020 AFL season to continue amid the coronavirus pandemic which has recently seen cases spike dramatically in southern states.

On Thursday it was revealed that three clubs – Richmond, Carlton and North Melbourne – were being investigated by the AFL Integrity Unit for alleged breaches, but on Friday The Age was reporting another club is also being probed.

The Age story did not name the fourth club, but yesterday it was reported that Richmond is in hot water after a player’s partner visited a day spa, North Melbourne players’ partners attended a football game together and Carlton’s breach occurred when a player dropped his kids off at their grandparents’ house. The grandparents then took the children to a local theme park.

It is believed that Richmond and Carlton are expected to accept fines of up to $50,000 but the Kangaroos’ punishment may not be as tough.

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The reported breaches have drawn outrage within the AFL community. Earlier this week AFL insider Caroline Wilson delivered a stern reality check to the families of all footy players and Collingwood president and media identity Eddie McGuire was also far from impressed saying the league “can’t afford mistakes”.

After news of further breaches, McGuire urged the AFL to come down hard on those guilty of any breach of the hub regulations that are designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the league.

“Let’s be honest. I think what needs to happen… do you think the AFL will just come out and say, ‘Right, here’s what it is and if you do this you’re all clear and if you do that you’re in big trouble and if anybody transgresses you’re on the plane home, we’re not gonna cop this stuff’,” McGuire said on Triple M on Friday.

“I think that’s where it’s gotta be, it’s just gotta be so clear cut that no one can have any mitigation.

“Every time somebody does something in this country – ‘I thought I could do this, I thought I could do that’ – well you can’t. Bang.

“Ordinary circumstances you haven’t got the entire AFL in a bunker and the season on the precipice.”

Eddie McGuire, Gillon McLachlan (Getty)

Prior to the AFL allowing hundreds of family members to join players, coaches and staff up north, they provided clubs with an official guide to the rules of the hub, entitled ‘AFL High Performance Centre Family Induction Information’.

AFL reporter Tom Browne said the forward written by league CEO Gillon McLachlan clearly outlines the expectations of those travelling with teams to the High Performance Centre to follow the guidelines put in place.

“It’s a hotel or resort solely dedicated for the AFL to enable the control of external people entering the facility that includes accommodation, training and the grounds,” Browne read from the AFL document on Triple M.

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“It’s an environment designed to support the well-being of players.

“But this is the interesting bit – what a HPC is not.

“It’s not a family holiday experience with the ability to move freely in the community, it’s not an environment that replicates your normal home living arrangement, and it’s not the same liberties afforded to local communities as part of the state’s current COVID-19 restrictions even once – it says in big red letters – once the initial 14-day quarantine days has concluded, strict adherence to the protocols is required akin to stage three government restrictions.”

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