Members of the 34 suspended Essendon current and past players are expected to commit to an appeal against their Court of Arbitration for Sport 12-month bans.
The deadline for lodging an appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, however, remains Wednesday February 10, and the players do not need to commit to the appeal before then.
The AFL Players’ Association, as it has done throughout the past three years, continues to provide legal advice and support, and would help the players lodge any appeal through Swiss lawyers.
“The players still have some time to weigh up the option of an appeal and we’ll be in a position to provide further detail once an outcome is reached,” AFLPA CEO Paul Marsh said.
“But fundamentally these players have a right to justice and to clearing their name. Should any of them decide to appeal they are merely exercising their right to do so. This equally applies to every other player in the competition and the AFLPA advocates this right for all players and will support them.”
“these players have a right to justice and to clearing their name. Should any of them decide to appeal they are merely exercising their right to do so.” – AFL Players’ CEO Paul Marsh
He said the AFLPA did not intend to provide a running commentary before Wednesday’s deadline, nor was it prepared to discuss which specific players were likely to appeal, but felt compelled to clarify the situation in the wake of incorrect and unhelpful information that has found its way into the media.
Marsh rejected reports that the AFLPA would cover the financial cost of any appeal.
“Categorically the AFL Players’ Association hasn’t funded any legal bills to this point and won’t be funding this appeal,” Marsh said.
He was also disappointed that player manager Peter Jess, who represents one of the 34, Nathan Lovett-Murray, had spoken to several media outlets over the past few days.
“I think Peter’s comments probably show how disconnected he is to actually what’s happening here with the 34 players, and he certainty shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of any other players except for Nathan,” Marsh said.
In a series of meetings over the past week the 34 players have been briefed on three key areas: legal advice around their appeal options, information about compensation prospects and the practicalities of what the players can and cannot do around football during the year-long ban.
The issue of compensation remains a separate legal matter to the appeal process, and it is hoped this will involve a negotiated agreement rather than litigation.
The players’ wellbeing also remains a top priority of the AFLPA, with each of the 34 Essendon players assigned an AFLPA case manager who works with the players on an individual action plan to meet their ongoing needs across development, wellbeing and psychology.