The AFL season has lurched into another disaster after a day of criticism over border-jumping was followed with the league’s worst COVID breach to date.
As league CEO Gillon McLachlan fends off attacks about why 400 executives, families and media were allowed to fly from Victoria to Queensland this week, two Richmond players have created headlines the AFL can ill afford.
The Courier Mail exclusively revealed Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were involved in a brawl outside a strip club on the Gold Coast on Friday morning around 3.30am.
Stack, 20, and Coleman-Jones, 21, were allegedly evicted from the Hollywood Showgirls gentleman’s club on the Glitter Strip’s Orchard Ave before engaging in a fight just metres from a police station that left them both injured.
Police were called to the incident and released the following statement after fining both players $800.
“Police arrested two men following a disturbance in Surfers Paradise early this morning,” the statement said.
“Around 3.30am, officers responded to reports of two men, aged 20 and 21, involved in a physical altercation on Orchid Avenue.
“Both men sustained facial injuries as a result of the incident.
“The men were both issued with a Police Banning Notice, excluding them from Gold Coast Safe Night Precincts and a Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) for Public Nuisance (Violent Behaviour). Further investigations are continuing into the matter.”
Richmond said it was aware of the breach of AFL COVID-19 protocols by two of its players and immediately reported it to the AFL, which has launched an investigation.
Reports later emerged the brawl erupted after Stack visited a kebab shop near the strip club.
Channel 7’s Tom Browne said on Twitter: “Stack ordered two lots of two kebabs. His card declined and he was quite aware according to the shop owner. Certainly not necessarily drunk according to shop owner.
“It appears from vision a drunk bloke repeatedly sets upon Jones. Stack diffuses and attempts to contain the fight. Tigers pair didn’t physically start it.
“According to the shop owner, Stack asked ‘for one of his famous kebabs’. His eftpos didn’t work. So transferred the money. The two kebabs were ruined in the scuffle. So the Tigers pair ordered two more post the fight.”
Stack, from Western Australia, has played nine games for Richmond this season but hasn’t featured since a round 13 clash against Essendon in Darwin on August 22.
Coleman-Jones, a South Australian product, hasn’t played a senior game this season.
The Tigers last played against Fremantle on Wednesday night, winning by 27 points to move into the top four.
Despite not playing, both Stack and Coleman-Jones are required to remain inside their team’s isolation bubble.
Players and coaches are forbidden from attending bars and restaurants under strict COVID-19 protocols.
Richmond — the reigning premier and favourite to win this year’s grand final — faces a fine of at least $100,000. The players will likely be suspended for the remainder of the season.
Stack missed last year’s successful finals campaign after injuring his ankle late in the season. Coleman-Jones played the one and only game of his AFL career to date in round 10 last year.
Sydney youngster Elijah Taylor was rubbed out for the rest of 2020 after sneaking his girlfriend into the Swans hub in Perth earlier this month.
Most of the AFL’s 18 clubs have broken COVID rules at least once this season.
It comes after the Queensland government’s decision to welcome 400 Melbourne-based AFL bigwigs across the border was met with fury.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was accused of double standards after a brain tumour patient’s application for quarantine exemption was rejected twice by the government, despite it welcoming the sporting officials to cross the border.
But McLachlan said footy executives, WAGs and media who flew from Victoria to Queensland are “doing this quarantine the same as everyone else”.