ADELAIDE has backed chief executive Steven Trigg's claim that he verbally cancelled a written agreement to trade Kurt Tippett to the club of his choice three years ago.
The Crows announced after a two-hour board meeting on Saturday that both Trigg and football manager Phil Harper would continue in their roles next year following their AFL-imposed suspensions of six and two months.
Adelaide chairman Rob Chapman said after Friday's Commission hearing that the club's board had not been made aware of their officials' agreement to underwrite third party payments for Kurt Tippett when they re-signed him at the end of 2009.
The chairman, who said the illegal deal was not brought to his attention until Harper confessed to it as Tippett's trade to Sydney was falling apart, said yesterday that the CEO had the unanimous support of the club's directors, players, staff, coaches and sponsors. He said the Crows had many important things happening in the next 12 months and that there would not be enough time to recruit a new chief executive, train them and bring them up to speed on those various issues.
Chapman confirmed again that Trigg had been asked about the existence of an ''exit clause'' in Tippett's contract during a board meeting in August last year. The chief executive told directors there was such a clause, but has since claimed he called Tippett's manager, Peter Blucher, soon after striking the agreement at the end of the 2009 season to void it, having realised it was against the AFL's rules.
That claim was disputed by Blucher during the AFL's investigation of the draft and salary cap breaches that led to the club being fined $300,000 and removed from the first two rounds of next year's draft, and there is no written evidence of it.
Chapman said Trigg had been ''fast reaching'' the conclusion that he needed to own up to the deal, kept secret for three years, as he neared the end of an overseas holiday during the recent trade period.
''At the time of the relevant board meeting there was a bit of speculation around about Tippett's side contract, not that it was called that back then. But it wasn't front of mind like it is today,'' Chapman said.
''Boards like ours have a deep and wide agenda with everything we've got going on in the normal running of the club so we spoke about many things in that meeting, but we went through it today and we have a clear recollection of what was said.
''No one would draw any conclusion from that conversation to think we as a board should have done anything more than what was done at the time. We sat here this morning and went through the reasons why Steven should stay or go, and I understand why some supporters will disagree with our decision.
''But good chief executives don't grow on trees. I've got every player saying keep Trigg, every staff member saying keep Trigg and all our sponsors saying keep Trigg.''
Meanwhile, the AFL Players Association this week will open an investigation of Blucher's role in the saga. The AFLPA has revealed the investigation will be a three-step process, as Blucher, of the Brisbane-based Velocity Sports, fights to avoid possible deregistration.
The union will announce within days who will head the probe, which if any wrongdoing is found will then entitle Blucher to have the opportunity to respond if a notice to show cause is issued.
The AFL said on Friday it would hand all relevant evidence from its investigation to the AFLPA.
''We've said all along we'll investigate the involvement of Blucher after the Commission hands down its decision, which we'll now do,'' Prendergast said on Saturday.
Blucher could be deregistered, suspended or reprimanded and also faces a fine, if found guilty of brokering a commitment the Crows would trade Tippett to the club of his choice in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Tippett was also found to have received illegal payments that were not disclosed disclosed to the AFL.
Tippett, the former Crow who has blamed the club for his predicament, has been suspended from the opening 11 rounds of the 2013 home-and-away season.