Mad Monday has turned into sad Monday for Gold Coast with the AFL club losing patience with midfielder Harley Bennell.
On the first official day of the club’s off-season, chief executive Andrew Travis was forced to announce the 22-year-old will be traded during the upcoming exchange period after another off-field incident.
Bennell has been served with a public nuisance notice by police after an alleged argument with a bouncer outside a Surfers Paradise nightclub on Sunday.
The West Australian product will face court on September 22.
It was the last straw for the Suns with Bennell already on his last warning after being fined $5000 and given a three-match suspended ban following the publication in July of images appearing to show him taking illicit drugs in the 2013 pre-season.
Travis, flanked by captain Gary Ablett and coach Rodney Eade, said there was no option but to end Bennell’s 81-game association with the Suns.
“The decision was a clear one for our club and was unanimously supported by our leadership group,” Travis said.
“It is disappointing. When Harley returned to football after a club-imposed sanction we outlined a program and a series of actions that he needed to follow to have a future at the Gold Coast Suns.
“We also made it clear to Harley, and our entire playing group, the expectations we had of them as players and representatives of this club.
“We knew at the time, no matter what we said, we’d always be judged on our actions, not our words.”
The second pick in the 2010 draft, Bennell has always been a potential match-winner on the field but his off-field dramas had become too much for his teammates and the club to tolerate.
In 2015 alone Bennell was reportedly sanctioned in pre-season for arriving at a training session under the influence of alcohol, stood down during the early part of the campaign after breaching team drinking protocols and brought national shame on the club with the publication of the alleged drug-taking images.
Suns captain Gary Ablett conceded Bennell’s place at the club was no longer tenable.
“We all know how talented Harley is as a player but as AT (Travis) touched on, all the players know the expectations and we, as a football club, need to earn back the respect of everyone,” he said.
“It’s obviously tough. Harley’s obviously a mate of all the players but at the same time the football club will continue to support him until he finds a new club and continue to move forward.”
Despite having two years remaining on his contract, the Suns were thought to already be considering making Bennell available for trade before Monday’s decision.
Premiers Hawthorn, Essendon, Melbourne and St Kilda have all been named as potential destinations.
Travis said he was confident a satisfactory resolution could be found and Bennell’s reputation wasn’t so tarnished as to lower his trade value.
“We’re confident a trade will get done and that’s the way forward,” he said.