SCOTT SPITS July 18, 2012
Moment of truth: Chris Judd arrives at the AFL Tribunal. Photo: Pat Scala
Chris Judd's manager has backed down from his stinging attack on the AFL after initially accusing the league of interfering in the misconduct charges laid against the Carlton skipper.
Experienced player manager Paul Connors today slammed the AFL's match review panel, saying chairman Mark Fraser should not have commented on the charge against Judd before the case had been heard by the tribunal.
Connors had also accused the league’s football operations manager Adrian Anderson of stepping in on the process.
"I just find it outrageous, the vitriol about Chris," Connors told SEN today. "Then you've got the head of the match review panel making comments about the case before it’s even heard.
"I just can't remember that happening before, where Mark Fraser goes on afl.com - talking about it.
"Then you've got the head of football Adrian Anderson ... if he hasn’t been speaking to Fraser and telling the world why this has to go direct to the tribunal, then I’ll go he.
"It's just another case of AFL interference for mine."
But in a statement released late today the high-profile manager said he’d accepted Anderson’s assurance that the AFL hadn’t directed the panel to come to a specific ruling.
‘‘I jumped to incorrect conclusions and stated them as fact. I accept that the MRP and the tribunal are independent bodies and I apologise to Adrian for suggesting that he would interfere and to Mark for suggesting that he would allow such interference,’’ Connors said.
‘‘I didn’t intend to undermine confidence in the MRP and tribunal system and hope I haven’t done that.’’
Anderson had warned against suggestions of AFL interference into the Judd case and said the league would assess Connors’ comments.
"I’ll have a close look at those (comments) and that’s a concern," Anderson said.
"He wants to be a little bit careful about alleging interference."
Anderson also defended Fraser, pointing out that the match review panel chairman provided a public explanation of decisions every week.
"The match review panel is an independent body and they make their decision according to the rules. The tribunal as well.
"The other part of his comments about Mark Fraser making comments on afl.com - obviously he’s not aware, but Mark does a program every week," Anderson told radio station 3AW.
Connors said a two-to-three-match suspension would have been a fairer outcome for Judd.
"We would have been keen to throw ourselves (totally) at the mercy of the tribunal, but they wanted seven to 10 weeks," he said.
Carlton has decided not to appeal against Judd’s four-match ban, with the skipper to miss games against Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Sydney and the Brisbane Lions.
Judd apologised to Carlton supporters after the hearing.
"We’re disappointed, but we respect the tribunal’s decision," he said.
"I’d just like to reiterate that it was never my intention to hurt Leigh Adams. I’ve obviously expressed this apology to him personally since the event and we’d just like to extend that apology to the Carlton footy club and its supporters for letting them down."