AFL top-up ruling lacks sense: Port chief

Port Adelaide say the AFL’s ruling that prevents it and three other clubs signing top-up recruits to replace banned former Essendon players lacks sense.

Port believe the AFL decision was based on a flawed process which was influenced by rival clubs.

The AFL on Friday announced Port, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne can’t replace former Essendon players now on their list who have been suspended for the 2016 season by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Some 34 past and current Essendon players were banned for one-year by CAS for their roles in the supplements scandal.

Essendon, which had 12 players suspended, were given AFL permission to sign a maximum of 10 top-up recruits.

But the other four clubs with banned ex-Bombers on their senior lists have been denied any replacement signings.

“We don’t like it. We’re disappointed,” Port chief executive Keith Thomas told Adelaide radio station 5AA.

Port have two former Bombers – Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries – on its list.

“That Essendon could end up with 43 players and Port Adelaide with 42, with a list solution constructed by the AFL, just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Thomas sais.

The Power chief suspected all other AFL clubs who don’t have Essendon players on their list played key roles in the ruling.

All other clubs were consulted before the AFL made its decision, he said.

“We were really surprised at the process,” Thomas said.

“There was a consultation process with all the other clubs … we felt it was a unique situation that required AFL leadership – make a call and get on with it, one way or another.

“In the end, that little survey (of other clubs) got exactly the result you would expect.

“I’m assuming all clubs said no … I don’t blame a single club for being interested in their own well-being. I just didn’t think it was part of the process that needed to be entertained.”

AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said clubs signed former Essendon players at a risk, knowing they could face suspensions over the Bombers’ 2012 supplements program – even though the clubs were an innocent party to the breach.

Essendon has signed seven of its 10 permitted top-up players.

“An exception has been made for Essendon only because of the sheer number of suspended players it has on its list and on the basis that they must be able to field a side that can compete at a basic level each week,” Dillon said in comments reported by

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