Statement attributed Agent Accreditation Board in relation to the conduct of Hemisphere Management Group:
The Agent Accreditation Board (AAB) has found Accredited Player Agents representing Hemisphere Management Group to be in breach of Clause 4.1 and Clause 8 of the Agents’ Code of Conduct, and has accordingly issued the company with a sanction of $10,000.
The AAB found that Hemisphere had facilitated and overseen a football training session which included players that had not yet signed with any management company, several of whom were also under the prescribed age of approach.
Clause 4.1 of the Agents’ Code of Conduct prohibits an agent from providing a benefit or other thing of value to a player in anticipation of the player signing a Standard Player Agent Agreement (including athletic training, per guidelines that have previously been provided to agents), while Clause 8 of the Agents’ Code of Conduct prohibits an agent from approaching a player or player’s parents before 1 October in the calendar year in which the player is last eligible for the U/16 National Championships. Updated Regulations governing Accredited Agents have recently come into effect. The AAB has considered this matter under the now replaced Regulations and Code of Conduct given the timing of the issues in this matter prior to the issuing of updated Regulations, but the AAB notes that there is no substantive change to the particular provisions relevant to this matter.
While a training session would be permitted under the Agent Regulations for players who have signed with an agency, a session such as this is not permitted in the case of unsigned players under the rules relating to inducements. In this circumstance, the players were not of the age of approach, so should not have been approached by Hemisphere at all.
The AAB also considered that Hemisphere, in the weeks prior to the training session, had been contacted by the AFLPA to discuss allegations of breaches of the age of approach rules, was on notice that the AAB was likely to further investigate, and had admitted to breaches of the age of approach rules. The training session was nevertheless held with players under the age of approach.
In determining the appropriate penalty, the AAB noted that the relevant rules are a critical part of the Agents’ Regulations and, taking into account all the circumstances, this breach must attract the indicative maximum financial sanction outlined in the Regulations. After considering all of the circumstances, the AAB has determined that the sanction is fully payable (with no part suspended) and can be made to a charity of Hemisphere’s choice.
The AAB notes that Hemisphere has taken responsibility for the breaches, has committed to improved conduct in future and has cooperated with the AAB’s enquiries.