In a sign the AFL year has not quite left the silly season, Melbourne underworld identity Mick Gatto appeared on The Footy Show on Thursday night to claim he’d been “embroiled” in the Essendon supplements saga.
In a convoluted interview with media figure and former Geelong great Sam Newman, Gatto claimed he had been approached by someone at Essendon to find out “what was going on” with the supplements saga.
He would not reveal who had approached him and provided scant details about the nature of the supposed request.
Gatto also said that throughout the saga he had been in contact with controversial biochemist Shane Charter.
“Now Shane came and saw me and he said ‘mate, I’ve been hard done by here’,” Gatto told Newman during the interview inside his Carlton restaurant, Villa Romano.
“And he said ‘I can prove without any shadow of a doubt that the supplement they brought over here’, the Miso-4 (Thymosin beta-4) or whatever it was, ‘I can prove that it wasn’t that, it was something else’.
“He had compelling evidence that it was legal.
“We done a deal with some members of Essendon who tried to do a deal and he wanted to be paid for it because of his hardship and what he had been dragged through. They wouldn’t hand over, so they went and paid lawyers millions of dollars instead.”
— The AFL Footy Show (@AFLFootyShow) March 9, 2017
Gatto’s much-anticipated appearance on The Footy Show followed a day of speculation over the underworld figure’s involvement in the 2012 saga.
Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner earlier dismissed the allegations that the club had approached Gatto, saying they were the acts of bitter former staff.
“Two disgruntled ex-employees have made a number of false and unsubstantiated allegations against the club,” Mr Tanner said in a statement provided to AAP on Thursday morning.
“For example, allegations of having dealings with Mick Gatto are false.
“Inappropriate demands and threats made upon Essendon Football Club have been reported to the AFL Integrity Department and on its advice, Victoria Police have been contacted.”
The Essendon drug scandal in 2011 and 2012 led to the club being kicked out of the 2013 finals series and 34 players being suspended for the 2016 season for using banned substances.
Gatto had earlier declined to elaborate on his allegations, telling journalists at a press conference they would “hear all about it” on a television show Thursday night.
He said he was not being paid for the television interview, but was doing it because they had shown him respect in the past.
“I’ve organised this meeting today to get you away from my home, (so you’d) leave my family alone,” he said.
Meanwhile, several media outlets reported that former Essendon premiership player Dean Wallis and another former club employee, John Elliott, are currently the subject of a blackmail investigation.
The pair have filed WorkSafe compensation claims over their dismissal from the club, which includes Mr Elliott’s allegation that he was asked to arrange a meeting with Gatto, the Herald Sun reported.