Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham has called for the trade ban imposed on his club to be lifted, describing it as a senseless sanction and claiming leading AFL officials have been giving untrue reasons for the punishment.
Pridham made his appeal at his pre-match dinner before the SCG game against Collingwood in front of an audience of around 400, which included AFL commissioners Sam Mostyn, Kim Williams, Jason Ball and Chris Langford.
He said the Swans were so concerned about false assertions emanating from the AFL regarding the circumstances surrounding the reasons for the trade ban that back in March CEO Andrew Ireland wrote to his AFL counterpart Gillon McLachlan requesting the league stop making erroneous comments which the club had to continually correct.
Pridham said he receive no reply and the assertions continued.
“Ongoing comments by senior AFL officials, most recently CEO Gillon McLachlan and AFL Football Operations Manager Mark Evans on Melbourne radio over the past week have continued to perpetuate an explanation for the reasons for the trade ban that are simply untrue,” Pridham said.
He added the Swans accepted the removal of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) despite believing that it was a necessary equalisation measure.
However, Pridham said there had been no mention in many previous meetings of the two-year trade ban imposed on the Swans in late July last year.
“We believe that the trade ban and restrictions are unconstitutional and a serious restraint of trade impacting players and clubs,” Pridham said.
“The trade ban has no justification. The Sydney Swans have broken no rules. It is a senseless sanction.”
Pridham said AFL General Council Andrew Dillon wrote to the Sydney Swans and GWS on July 16 last year outlining the terms for the phasing out of COLA, with both to be treated equally, but 12 days later a ban was imposed only on the Swans.
“On multiple occasions the AFL chairman and some AFL commissioners have told me directly that the reason Sydney has a trade ban has nothing to do with COLA,” Pridham said.
“The explanation for the trade ban was that the commission, and I quote: `did not want to be embarrassed by the Swans, with another high-profile player signing following the signing in consecutive years of Kurt Tippett and Lance Franklin.’
“So there you have it. The Swans were banned from trading when other clubs continue to recruit top line players year after year often from lowly positioned clubs.
“The trade ban was subsequently relaxed and only bans trading players paid above the average wage.
“This reinforces the fact that the ban is about stopping the Swans trading top end talent, not COLA.”
Pridham urged the commissioners present at his dinner to prevail on their colleagues at their next meting to scrap the ban.
“You should join together with your colleagues at the next opportunity to remove the trade ban and let transparency and fairness outweigh spin,” Pridham said.
“Modification of an unjust rule is not a solution. Only the removal of an unjust ruling is adequate.
“Please do not let pride override proper practice.
“I sincerely believe the trade ban will distort this competition, is unfair to all clubs and players and will continue to have very serious consequences to the Sydney Swans and probably more importantly, the integrity of our game and its governance.
“I believe that our game should be better than this.”