The AFL Commission pushed to hand Collingwood forward Jaidyn Stephenson a more serious penalty for his gambling breaches than the 10-week ban eventually applied in order to make a statement around players betting on games.
Collingwood were prepared to accept what they considered an appropriate penalty for the breach but they were willing to consider their legal options if the ban was unreasonable, particularly given the circumstances which brought it to the AFL’s attention.
The AFL took into account the potential for legal action being taken to contest the penalty but they were also keen to ensure the penalty was not so heavy that other players were discouraged from self-reporting breaches of the gambling policy in the future.
Stephenson’s breaches were considered blatant and serious however there was also the view of several parties involved in deliberations, that his offence was unlikely to have been detected if he had not told Magpies’ football manager Geoff Walsh he had organised for bets to be placed on three AFL matches he played in on his behalf.
Those who held that view thought self-reporting should therefore carry significant weight, with Magpies president Eddie McGuire joining the discussions late alongside Walsh and Magpies CEO Mark Anderson. The AFLPA and Stephenson’s management were also party to the discussions being run by AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon.