AFL virus breach fines a warning to clubs

Western Bulldogs have heeded the warning from the AFL after five clubs were hit with heavy financial sanctions for coronavirus protocol breaches.

Magpies head coach NATHAN BUCKLEY.
Magpies head coach NATHAN BUCKLEY. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says heavy financial penalties for COVID-19 protocol breaches in recent days have served as a significant warning for all AFL clubs.

On Saturday, Collingwood were fined $50,000 - with half that amount suspended - for transgressions made by coach Nathan Buckley and assistant Brenton Sanderson.

The experienced pair played tennis with two people outside the club's "bubble" in Perth on Friday and later self-reported the incident.

They did not breach West Australian government regulations but did fall foul of AFL-imposed guidelines.

The Magpies' penalty came a day after Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Richmond and Carlton were issued similar heavy fines for protocol breaches.

Beveridge said the penalties had prompted the Bulldogs to remind their travelling party - based in a Gold Coast hub - about the severe implications of transgressions as the AFL attempts to complete the 2020 season.

Crucial broadcast revenue is at stake as the competition fights its way through the coronavirus-induced financial crisis.

Bulldogs director of football Chris Grant and COVID-19 compliance officer Sam Power this week addressed the club's travelling players, coaches, staff and families.

"It was a positive message because we've been doing everything to the best of our ability to the letter of the protocols," Beveridge told reporters on Sunday.

"Fortunately, we weren't one of the clubs who transgressed.

"It seems like a no-brainer that you should stay within the parameters, but at times it's quite easy to revert to what your life has been prior and it doesn't seem so black and white.

"But we've had some reminders and there's no doubt all of us really checked ourselves when the sanctions came out.

"Now it's our challenge to make sure that we remain compliant and keep our heads in what we're here to do."

Beveridge wasn't surprised by the severity of the sanctions handed down to rival clubs and said the Bulldogs' travelling party understands the far-reaching implications of any breaches.

"It's a significant financial warning that's been shot over the bow," Beveridge said.

"From the game's perspective and the financial and intangible benefits that we get out of the game, there's too much risk.

"We understand that and it wasn't a great surprise, but it just shows you that the AFL are going to come down extremely hard on anything."


AAP