AFL commentator Brian Taylor has slammed the Richmond players involved in a serious COVID-19 breach but Channel 7 colleague and footy legend Wayne Carey sympathises with the pair.
Tigers duo Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones will be sent home to Victoria and slapped with 10-game bans after being involved in a fight outside a strip club on the Gold Coast in the early hours of Friday morning.
However, Hollywood Showgirls on Orchid Ave in Surfers Paradise wasn’t dishing any details about what went down.
“To our valued customers. What happens in Hollywood stays in Hollywood,” the venue’s licensee Craig Duffy wrote on its Instagram page.
“We value our customers privacy whether they be an unknown client or a high profile celebrity or athlete.
“We cannot confirm or deny any fight or eviction occurred.”
Police fined both men $800 each and the AFL has handed Richmond a $100,000 penalty, which will come out of the club’s spending on its football department soft cap.
Tigers CEO Brendon Gale accused the players of acting “disrespectfully” and suggested they would be forced to cough up $75,000 of the $100,000 fine for the worst breach of quarantine restrictions yet.
The footy world was furious with Stack and Coleman-Jones for such a blatant disregard of the rules governing what players can and can’t do in their Queensland hubs. However, North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey wasn’t willing to sink the boot in too far.
“I know they made a big mistake, but I can’t help but feel sorry for them,” Carey said during Seven’s broadcast of Brisbane’s win over Collingwood on Friday night. “A huge, huge mistake, but I feel ill for them.
“They are under all sorts of pressure and will cop all sorts of criticism. Deservedly so, but I feel for them.”
Ex-Richmond and Collingwood champion Taylor wasn’t so lenient. Earlier this month he slammed “entitled” footy stars for asking too much of the AFL in quarantine, telling them to simply “be thankful” they still had a job.
Last night, the commentator ripped Coleman-Jones and Stack to shreds.
“No fine is big enough for what the players have done. And what they have done is put the entire competition under threat,” he said during Seven’s pre-match broadcast.
“I feel like I say this every two or three weeks but the players, they simply are not learning.
“What could you be doing outside a souvlaki shop after attending a strippers? I mean, come on.”
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Seven AFL reporter Tom Browne praised the AFL for acting swiftly in pushing Richmond and the offending stars, but questioned if it would have been wiser to reduce the Tigers’ player salary cap rather than the football department soft cap, which includes spending on supplies and staff such as physios and coaches.
Browne suggested someone at the club will lose their job through no fault of their own because of the breach, and questioned if harsher penalties were needed.
“The draft picks and even premiership points were there available. I think that’s what would really have hurt Richmond,” Browne said. “Because under the soft cap — which is the amount you can spend on footy — that will be reduced and either you get less equipment or less staff.
“So some boot studder or some junior graduate physio is probably not going to be employed by Richmond this year because of these two players … it’s a shocking breach, (they) have gone out in pretty horrendous circumstances on the Gold Coast.
“Why not take it out of the players’ salary cap, not the football department cap because if you have $100,000 less in a football department spend, you’ve got to find it somewhere.
“Whether it’s boot-strapping, whether it’s boots, whether it’s balls, I’ll tell you what it will be, it will be someone less this year — a yoga instructor or something.
“What would have hurt Richmond is draft sanctions or premiership points.”
However, Taylor clapped back at Browne, as he was less convinced the $100,000 slap would automatically see someone become employed.
“The conversation that you and I had was that someone at the footy club is going to lose their job as a result of the sanction and it be taken out of the soft cap,” Taylor said.
“It doesn’t have to be a person’s position, it could be materialistic. It could be the number of footballs, the number of guernseys, the amount of tape they buy each year.
“Why are the media sensationalising it to someone’s job only? It could be any component out of the football component.”
Stack and Coleman-Jones visited a nearby kebab shop before their altercation and the business owner Mick Akca said the pair weren’t doing anything wrong.
“They got the kebabs, sat down, started to eat, then the drunk guy came over and got involved with them,” Akca told News Corp.
“They were just eating their kebabs — why would you disturb them?”