AFL 6 months ago

Fitzpatrick OK with AFL's stance on Dons

  • Fitzpatrick OK with AFL's stance on Dons

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 15: AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick speaks to the media to announce the 2012 Brownlow Medal will be awarded to Trent Cotchin of the Tigers and Sam Mitchell of the Eagles during a press conference at AFL House on November 15, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Regrets? Outgoing AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick has a few.

But only a few, as the three-time Carlton premiership ruckman and Rhodes scholar concluded his decade-long tenure at the top of the sport.

Not the league's handling of the Essendon doping saga, which has dominated the code for the past five years.

And not expansion mis-steps on the Gold Coast or Tasmania.

Since taking the role as chair of the AFL Commission in 2007, there have certainly have been plenty of issues for head office to grapple with.

Expansion. Broadcast deals. Racism. Doping. Wage negotiations. Women's football. Stadia. Laws of the game. Gambling.

It might come as some surprise then, that Fitzpatrick nominated bench rotations as the top issue he wasn't able to fix as chairman.

"The one thing I'd really like to kill is interchange, or at least get it down to a sensible number," he said on Wednesday, nominating "30 or 40" as his preferred cap.

"We've got the cap in but we haven't got it to a level that would be sensible.

"Even if you're chairman or chief executive you don't necessarily get what you want."

Fitzpatrick insisted he wouldn't change anything about the league's approach to the Essendon doping saga, irrevocably linked to his chairmanship.

"What happened was difficult and it should never have happened but I'm totally comfortable with the way in which we dealt with it," he said.

"As different events unfolded, the AFL and Commission dealt with them as they came.

"It's not so much a lowlight as something we simply had to deal with."

He nominated a botched effort in 2010 to partially relocate North Melbourne to Tasmania as a failure.

Gold Coast and western Sydney were handed teams in 2011 and 2012 and have enjoyed varying degrees of success.

The footy-mad island state remains without a team of its own, which Fitzpatrick blamed partially on local politics.

"We tried to sort Tassie out and just have one side. That's an example of where we failed," he said.

"The difficulty is the north-south issue in Tasmania and that has to be resolved before Tasmania can be resolved.

"It's not totally clear where you would go in Australia with another team. It will be hard to add teams from here. We're covering most of the country's population."

Fitzpatrick said combating doping would continue to be a major challenge for the sport, but the biggest headache would be defending the code's popularity.

"The overwhelming issue for Australian Rules will be competition from the other sports," he said.

"We have to keep making the game attractive ... we're going to have international sports like soccer working very hard to unseat us as the No.1 code."

Fitzpatrick defended the code's handling of the more prickly issues under his tenure.

"As an administrator in any sport, particular in AFL, you're going to get a lot of issues that turn up and going to be difficult," he said.

"I've been very proud of the way we've dealt with them."

0 0
please wait...