“It’s important to not draw a line to things that occurred over a number of years,” Fagan told The Age. “There are different people involved and different circumstances clearly.”
While Adelaide’s forwards coach and 300-gamer Ben Hart is also facing sanctions for running the group training session on a series of fairways at the Tanunda Pines Golf Club, Fagan also singled out the club’s high performance team for the training instructions forwarded to the quarantining Hart.
“It was poorly communicated and poorly executed,” said Fagan. “It was in no way deliberate but the instructions were not as explicit as they might have been.”
The club was understood to have also been disappointed that no player thought to raise a red flag as the group training drill unfolded. At least one Crows official on-field leader, Tom Doedee, took part.
McLachlan, who will unveil the AFL’s return date in the coming days, had not yet put the proposed sanctions in place but is under some pressure from rival club chiefs disgusted at Adelaide’s actions, which came less than 48 hours after coach Matthew Nicks said the returning interstate players would be quarantining at home.
Fagan said the opportunity to quarantine as a group in the Barossa Valley emerged on Tuesday night as the Crows sought special permission from the South Australian Police to better prepare their returning footballers.
Coming as it did while the AFL bosses are undergoing sensitive negotiations with the state premiers – the South Australian Government has said it would not allow non-SA clubs to play in Adelaide without quarantining – several presidents initially pushed for the club to lose premiership points.
The notion of suspending 16 players for the season is not a consideration but the AFL is looking at mass player suspensions, which would prove crippling as the Crows attempt to reboot their season.