The Courier sports editor David Brehaut, and journalist and Essendon supporter Tom Cowie have their say on the Essendon sanctions.
ESSENDON has been handed the toughest sanctions in AFL history, but are the penalties for below par governance tough enough?
For Bomber fans, the answer is a definitive yes.
I am not so sure.
It is hard to argue with the $2 million fine.
It appears spot on and it will hurt.
However, the conditions of the loss of selections in the next two national drafts and being thrown out of this year’s finals series come up short as far as I am concerned.
Taking away Essendon’s first two picks in the 2013 and 2014 drafts was the way to go, but why allow it the ability to trade back into the top end of the draft?
The Bombers would have had to give up some serious talent to take advantage of this, but it is a get-out that should not exist.
I also question how much not playing in this season’s finals really hurts the club.
Players and fans are naturally impacted, but the way Essendon is playing it really is only a one-match ban.
It is denied an opportunity at a premiership, but snaring another flag appears well out of reach on form.
Surely the ban should have extended into next year. That would have hurt.
Of all the sanctions, the one non-Bomber supporters seem to be finding hardest to accept is the relegation of Essendon to ninth rather having all their premiership points stripped and sent to the bottom.
It really makes little difference. The penalty is missing the finals.
However, putting it on the bottom – with the condition it does not carry the draft benefits of getting the wooden spoon – would have been a strong statement and possibly the hardest of all to accept in years to come.
As an Essendon member, I am angry with what went on at my club.
That we still don’t have the full picture of what exactly happened also makes it very frustrating for someone who has supported the club all their life.
But from what we do know, I believe the Essendon Football Club deserved the whack handed down by the AFL on Tuesday night.
The governance and integrity issues raised by the supplement program clearly warranted a harsh punishment, and one which has turned out to be one of the strongest ever.
As much as it pains me to say it, James Hird also deserved to be penalised for his role in the whole saga.
Many opposition supporters have been highly critical of how Essendon people have supported Hird since the story broke in February.
It’s hard to explain why he means so much to the club, but for someone like me, who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, Hird is Essendon.
His blind turn, his vision, his skills, his leadership, the ability to turn a match based on sheer will, made him a much-loved hero.
That’s why it hurts so much to see him implicated in a program which skirted the boundaries of what was legal and what wasn’t.
For those who say we have got off the hook lightly, look at what the club has been reduced to.
As well as suspensions to our coach and football manager, we have lost our chairman and CEO.
The $2 million fine, despite many believing the opposite, will hurt a club which has spent big on its new training facility, while losing draft picks could cripple us for a decade.
Our reputation has been so thoroughly damaged that I would be astounded if all of our sponsors renewed next year.
Despite Andrew Demetriou pleading with Essendon supporters to stay strong, I wouldn’t blame those who felt disillusioned by the whole process.
But I will be sticking with the Bombers because I know we can rebuild. We will return.