Adelaide face a double AFL disaster over Kurt Tippett, with the Crows rapidly running out of time to strike a trade deal involving the key forward.
The Crows will probably lose him for nothing through the draft but that is the least of Adelaide’s worries.
The Crows and Tippett are under a league investigation which now also includes allegations of salary cap cheating.
If AFL investigations officer Ken Wood finds there was wrongdoing when Adelaide re-signed Tippett in 2009, the ramifications are massive for the club, player and his management.
It is understood the league have confirmed to Adelaide that they can still present a trade option for Tippett, regardless of the investigation.
But it is also unclear whether the league would approve any trade.
The AFL trade period ends at 2pm on Friday, with the ongoing investigation giving rival clubs even more pause to negotiate with the Crows over Tippett.
There is no timeframe for Wood to complete his investigation.
The Tippett saga has mutated from a massive headache to a potentially devastating blow for the Crows.
There had been speculation for months about the key forward’s future once his contract with Adelaide expired at the end of this season.
Adelaide officials had repeatedly denied the existence of a special clause in Tippett’s contract, struck when he re-signed in 2009.
That contract made him the Crows’ highest-paid player.
But it has now emerged there was an arrangement, outside the contract, where the Crows would allegedly trade Tippett to a club of his choice for a second-round draft pick.
That arrangement is at the centre of the league’s investigation into draft tampering.
Now the league is apparently looking into whether the secret deal involved a salary cap breach as well.
There is little doubt the league will come down hard on Adelaide, especially if the Crows are found guilty of breaking strict salary cap rules.
Adelaide would most likely suffer a fine and the loss of draft picks and they have said they will accept the AFL’s verdict.
There is growing speculation about the future of chief executive Steven Trigg should the league decide to punish the Crows.
Tippett and his manager Peter Blucher could also be penalised for their parts in any rules breach.
Last week, Adelaide failed to reach a trade deal with Sydney involving Tippett.
Originally, the speculation was that if the Queensland-born player left the Crows, he would return to his home state and play for Brisbane or Gold Coast.
Sydney’s bold four-year bid for Tippett shocked the Crows.
On Friday, Adelaide went to the league about the secret deal because of concerns they had about their legality and this sparked the investigation.
Meanwhile, Collingwood struck a deal for Carlton free agent Jordan Russell and traded Tom Young to the Western Bulldogs.
Fremantle’s Greg Broughton will go to Gold Coast and David Rodan will leave Port Adelaide for Melbourne.
Lewis Stevenson also heads from West Coast to Port Adelaide, with all five players changing clubs in exchange for draft picks.