Bulldogs punishments excessive: CEO
South Fremantle CEO Cameron Britt says the club accepts they committed wrongdoing in unintentionally breaching the WAFL salary cap, but believes elements of their punishment are excessive.
The WAFC announced last night that the Bulldogs had been pinned with a range of penalties after an audit uncovered they had exceeded the total player payments limit in the 2021 season.
The sanctions include the loss of eight premiership points for the 2023 season to go with player recruitment points and player payment reductions, on top of a $25,000 fine.
Britt told Sports Breakfast the penalties related to two separate breaches.
“One [breach] we put our hand up for and we didn’t disclose. It was non-deliberate … the attributes of these breaches were non-cash related, they were not malicious, and they were in no way hidden, and we’ve given full and unconditional cooperation as a first offence,” Britt said.
“With regards [the other breach], it related to compassionate and humanitarian support of an individual in our football club, which was deemed to be a breach, which we vehemently oppose that view.
“We have received a giant penalty, which has been difficult to understand, the extent of that penalty.”
Britt said the club believed the loss of eight premiership points was a “drastically severe” punishment.
“The football commission have informed us that they, from a competition integrity standpoint, they need to make a strong stance, they can’t have clubs effectively paying over the TPP, the salary cap, whether deliberate or in our case unknowingly, and they need to send a strong message, which we accept the principle of that,” he said.
“I’ve been handling this for several months now with our board, and it’s been a really challenging and frankly awful situation for our footy club.
“We need to show a strength within our football club, our response needs to be character-based. We are united, we need to show strong resilience, and I spoke to our players yesterday and I said sanctions certainly can’t curtail our high-performance culture here or our aspirations this year. It’s just going to get harder, but we have to get better.”
The Bulldogs have made the finals for the last seven years but will face an uphill battle to do so this year, with the points penalty meaning they effectively start two wins behind the rest of the competition.
Despite the disadvantage, Britt said he was confident that featuring in September was within the club’s reach.
“[Losing premiership points] is a huge penalty, and my sympathy for our playing group and our football department staff in our male program is just enormous, because we’ve worked hard all preseason, we’ve had a wonderful preseason, there’s a wonderful feeling in our group,” he said.
“Those facts actually give me comfort and confidence that we will overcome this, because we are such a tight group, we have worked so hard. It’s an absolute blow on the eve of our season, but we must adjust.
“I think finals football is absolutely the mission, and in a top five competition, if you can land yourself in that top five points no longer matter, and that’s our objective.”
The WAFL season kicks off on Easter Weekend next month, with the Bulldogs starting their campaign against West Coast at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Easter Saturday.