Collingwood has become the fifth club to be fined by the AFL this week for breaching the league’s strict COVID-19 Return To Play protocols.
The Magpies have been handed a $50,000 fine ($25,000 suspended) after senior coach Nathan Buckley and assistant coach Brenton Sanderson played tennis on Friday with two people from outside the club’s ‘bubble’.
According to The Age, one of the people involved in the tennis match with Buckley and Sanderson was Australia’s Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik.
Buckley and Sanderson were given approval to play tennis outside of the hub against each other on Wednesday and Friday, but were not permitted to play with outsiders.
While the tennis match was a breach of the AFL’s protocols, it was not a breach of any West Australian government protocols due to Collingwood’s 14-day quarantine period expiring last weekend.
The two coaches immediately reported the breach to Magpies officials when they realised they didn’t have appropriate approval.
According to a statement from Collingwood, both Buckley and Sanderson have asked to personally pay the portion of the fine that is not suspended ($25,000) to “demonstrate their accountability”.
Collingwood club CEO Mark Anderson described the saga as a “very disappointing reminder of how vigilant we must be to keep the season alive”.
“Our game has been granted the right to continue to play by governments around the country,” Anderson said in a club statement.
“In exchange for that right we simply must do all that we can to protect the health of our players, staff and the communities in which we are living and playing.
“Our football program has been educated and constantly reminded of its responsibilities and as senior leaders of our program both accept that this breach should not have occurred.
“As a club, we apologise, vow to be better and fully accept the penalty.”
Buckley and Sanderson’s breach comes after club president Eddie McGuire called on individuals who break the rules to be forced to bare the brunt of the AFL’s punishment.
“I think the people who breach the protocols should be fined personally, to be honest.” he told Fox Footy last night.
“You can get to the clubs in due course, I think the AFL’s set it out, but I think it’s got to be a personal fine.”
“I think the point Gill McLachlan made during the week is 100 per cent right: we make a rule to keep the game going. From here until the Grand Final, there’s still about $250 million worth to be left on the table if this ends. It’d be a disaster, imagine if we don’t get to finish off the finals series now.
“So he says here’s the rules, and the great Australian tradition as we’re seeing through society at the moment is ‘OK, there’s a rule, but it doesn’t apply to me’. He’s saying right, OK, have you got it now? It applies to everyone.
“That rule book is not how do we get around every rule, that’s the rule book you live by. And if you don’t like it, we’ll arrange for you to go home. I think that’s fair and reasonable.”
Collingwood’s fine comes after Hawthorn was also fined $50,000 for its own breach of the COVID-19 protocols, while Richmond, North Melbourne and Carlton were handed $45,000 fines from the AFL.