AFL tank cynicism won’t go away: Matthews
Four-time AFL premiership coach Leigh Matthews says he is cynical about Melbourne’s intentions in the 2009 match that provoked fresh tanking claims.
But he doubts there will ever be enough categorical evidence to either convict or clear the Demons.
AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has said any club found to have deliberately lost a match will be punished severely by the league.
The AFL this week reopened an investigation into the Demons after Carlton’s Brock McLean said he left Melbourne at the end of 2009 partly because he was uncomfortable with their approach late that year.
The greatest suspicions have centred on a match against Richmond, which the Demons lost after the siren having made some odd positional moves.
The loss helped ensure they gained a priority draft pick.
“The issue is on the two hours of the game, I look at that vision and I say I’m cynical, that doesn’t look like a team that’s desperate to win, with that positioning of players,” Matthews told the AFL website on Friday.
But he said proving Melbourne tried to lose, or finding evidence to remove suspicion, would both be almost impossible.
“It will be (publicly presumed) guilty until proven innocent and you can’t prove your innocence and it’s going to be very hard to prove categorical guilt,” Matthews said.
“This will just go round and round in circles most likely forever.”
But Carlton coach Brett Ratten, who has previously faced AFL questioning over suggestions the Blues tanked during his first games in charge in 2007, said experimenting with positions did not equate to trying to lose.
Ratten said moves such as Melbourne forwards Matthew Bate and Brad Miller spending time as midfielders and big man Paul Johnson playing on Tigers small forward Nathan Brown during the 2009 clash could have reasonable explanations.
“These things are tried and I feel for the coaches,” Ratten said.
“Matthew Bate has played centre square for Melbourne before that game, I know that, I’ve seen it, we’ve coached against them.
“We don’t look right back to it, we just pick and choose what we want to from the tape on that certain day.”© AAP 2013