The Sydney Swans have spoken out after being fined an eye-watering $100,000 for breaches of the AFL's COVID-19 policy, one of five clubs revealed to have been sanctioned.
The AFL stated the breaches related to clubs not completing and uploading proof of required RAT tests at specific times, with Brisbane, Collingwood, St Kilda and Richmond also in hot water.
'SHOULD BE ASHAMED': AFL in uproar over 'disgusting' scenes in Collingwood loss
Half of Sydney's $100,000 fine will be counted against the club's soft cap next season, which limits the amount they can spend on their football department.
Collingwood were fined a total of $50,000 and Richmond $25,000, with each of those clubs also facing a similar distribution across next season's soft cap.
St Kilda and Brisbane each earned reprimands, with their $25,000 fines suspended.
Swans boss Tom Harley said the fine was a disappointing blow for the club as it readies itself for a finals campaign.
The hit to their soft cap next season will come as a blow to their hopes of repeating their impressive campaign this year, however Harley said the club would accept the sanction and deal with it as best they could.
"It is disappointing that our club has not fully adhered to these important AFL protocols," Harley said in a statement.
"This behaviour falls well short of the standards we expect."
"And we have ensured the importance of this process is now well understood and complied with across the entire football club."
The AFL's general counsel Andrew Dillon said the sanctions came after a league compliance audit.
Breaking - Sydney is one of five clubs who have been sanctioned for failing COVID testing requirements throughout the season.
Swans the biggest fine - $100k - with half to fall in soft cap
More tonight @7NewsMelbourne
— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) August 16, 2022
Dillon said none of the clubs gained a competitive advantage as a result of their failure to conduct and upload RAT tests.
"While 13 of the clubs complied with the requirements, the five clubs failed to comply as required," Dillon said in a statement on Tuesday night.
"The sanctions they have been handed reflect the seriousness that we take in relation to the health and safety of players, staff and the wider community."
When deciding penalties, the AFL took into account the number of instances of non-compliance, the time period of the breaches and previous breaches of COVID protocols, he said.
Sydney Swans not focusing on AFL finals yet
Finals, and particularly Sydney's prospects of a top-two finish, are on the wider agenda entering the last home-and-away round.
The second-placed Swans can secure two home finals by defeating St Kilda on Sunday. But such talk is off-limits for head coach John Longmire.
"I know that everyone wants to talk about finals," Longmire told reporters on Tuesday.
"But the fact is we have got this week and we need to play well against St Kilda and that is at the forefront of our minds because it has to be. It's an important game.
" ... So we're looking at that and there will be time after Sunday's game to sit back and refocus.
"But at the present time it's about the Saints and that is what we need to concentrate on."
Pressed further on Sydney's potential top-two finish, Longmire refused to bite.
"It's not something, once again, that we talk about internally because it's just not part of our preparation," he said.
"It's not something we really focus on at all, we tend to look at what is very much in front of us.
"And we don't have to explain it (the potential top-two finish), I think everyone knows.
"So it's more of a focus on the Saints this week and what they do well.
"Their pressure was great last week and we will be looking at that and making sure that we finish off the season on a really strong note."
Sydney put their finals fate in their own hands by ending Collingwood's 11-game winning streak last Sunday, downing the Magpies by 27 points.
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