The AFL has suspended payments to Essendon until the club clarifies whether or not it is paying coach James Hird during his 12-month ban.
The issue appeared to have come to a head after Hird’s wife Tania told media on Wednesday that not only was her husband being paid, but the AFL and chief executive Andrew Demetriou were well aware of the situation.
“Of course he’s being paid, that was the deal,” Mrs Hird said.
“Andrew Demetriou knew it, the AFL knew it.”
Mrs Hird also accused the AFL of “threatening” her husband and the Bombers and said she wanted the governing body to “stop distorting the truth”.
However, the AFL said today it had written to the Bombers last week and on Monday seeking clarification on Hird’s pay situation and they would withhold the club’s monthly payments until they responded.
In a statement published on its website, the AFL said there was a “clear intention” for Hird not be paid or to work in any other way for Essendon as a result of his penalty over the club’s supplements program.
“Since September, the AFL has been in consultation with the Essendon FC concerning the terms of James Hird’s suspension, including the fact he cannot be paid by the club for a period of 12 months,” chief executive Andrew Demetriou said in the statement.
The club has also been notified if it “continues not to comply” with the terms of the suspension then it will have to appear before the AFL Commission in Melbourne next week.
Demetriou has strongly denied Hird is being paid during his suspension and today said he thought the pay situation had been resolved when he said recently that Hird was not being remunerated.
“The public statements from the AFL, from myself as CEO over the last week, were in the belief that Essendon had concluded its payment arrangements and begun the suspension period. The AFL has since sought confirmation and is yet to receive it,” he said.