Melbourne are expected to face a fine of $50,000 if an AFL investigation concludes that Harley Bennell breached its coronavirus rules.
A source familiar with the situation said Bennell had left the Demons’ Sunshine Coast hub on Saturday night to visit a friend. The former Dockers and Suns midfielder is cooperating with the investigation and is likely to be suspended and sent home if he is found to have broken the restrictions.
Sources said police were not involved in the matter. The penalty for a first offence is a $50,000 fine to the club. This is the Demons’ first potential breach since Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo ran foul of AFL protocols early in the season, before the hubs were established and a new fines system introduced.
The Demons reported the possible breach and are waiting on the AFL integrity unit to complete its investigation.
Bennell was not part of the Dees’ squad for Saturday’s match against Essendon on the Gold Coast, and as a precautionary measure has not returned to their hub.
« The Melbourne Football Club is aware of a potential breach of the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols involving player Harley Bennell, » the Demons said.
« Whilst the club and the AFL are in the process of establishing the facts, Harley will remain in an off-site isolation location, to remove any possibility of contaminating the Twin Waters high performance hub.
« As the matter is being investigated, the club is not in a position to comment further. »
Bennell’s former coach at Fremantle, Ross Lyon, said he had recently been in touch with the 27-year-old.
“It’s very concerning. I spoke to Harley on Friday, we had a conversation about not being picked and what the future looks like,” Lyon told Triple M.
“He was really committed to Melbourne, it seemed like they’d committed to him. I think if he’s been out … the concern for him is the exit interviews … that’s disappointing, he’s up there with [partner] Amy and [child] Carter.
“I hope he’s OK because a lot of pressure is going to come but he’d been perfect.
The potential breach comes at a time when the AFL and the Queensland government are under pressure regarding their arrangement to play out the season up north.
Many regular Queensland residents and family of Queenslanders are unable to get back into the state, while the AFL has been allowed to move its whole operation there essentially.
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