Josh Bornstein has an op-ed in the Herald Sun pointing to the AFLs corporate governance problems.*
So why has the AFL’s integrity system fallen into disrepute? The answer is not complicated: the AFL has tried to do too much. It has been torn between its core role of managing AFL business, including protecting its brand, and, on the other hand, investigating and deliberating on the Essendon story. It has tried to be business manager, administrator, investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. Something had to give.
What does he say about Demetriou?
During this period, Andrew Demetriou oscillated between the roles of CEO, media commentator, spokesperson for the prosecution, spokesperson for the disciplinary tribunal and so on. His efforts became tortured and almost comical.
Bear in mind that in April Demetriou was reported as saying: “I’m shocked by the complexity of the substances … It’s a terribly disturbing situation … when we are talking about the health and welfare of young men … (stepping down) is an option he has to consider … I’ve got briefings that are more advanced than what’s in the public domain.”
Later in the year, Demetriou then saw no problem in sitting on the AFL Commission to hear the charges. Really?
So here are the things the AFL lacks; Separation of decision making, lines of accountability, transparency, and integrity. How do we know?
It is now clear James Hird’s supposed punishment was a well-paid sabbatical year complete with some study in Paris.
Hird would have won his Supreme Court proceeding. Ditto club doctor Bruce Reid.
We also know that Demetriou didn’t know or understand this. Conversely he is so used to being unchallenged that he thought he could simply lie about what had happened with no consequence. I suspect the former and not the latter – but that just makes the governance failure at the AFL even worse.
The solution to this problem is functional separation. There should be one organisation that manages the rules of the game and another that manages the actual business. Both of these organisations need to be run like proper businesses and not like personal fiefdoms or voluntary associations.
*The thing to remember is this; the AFLs problems remain true even if ASADA ever manages to change anyone with anything.