Eddie McGuire's surprising call amid ongoing Hawthorn scandal

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has left open the possibility of sanctions against the Hawks after the conclusion of their investigation.

Eddie McGuire says imposing draft sanctions on Hawthorn would be too harsh a penalty after the AFL concluded their investigation into allegations stemming from the club. Picture: Channel 9

Eddie McGuire has slammed calls for Hawthorn to be stripped of AFL draft picks over their handling of the allegations against former coaches Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt. Hawthorn initiated a 'welfare check' on former First Nations players following Cyril Rioli's complaints of poor treatment at the hands of former club president Jeff Kennett, which eventually morphed into an independent investigation from the AFL.

The AFL's investigation was concluded late in May with no findings made against Clarkson, Fagan or Burt, after agreeing to a general apology to all Indigenous players on behalf of the league. The group also agree not to pursue legal action against the AFL, however league boss Gillon McLachlan left the door open for sanctions against Hawthorn - albeit at the discretion of the AFL general counsel.

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McLachlan said the Hawks could potentially be sanctioned for either bringing the game into disrepute or conduct unbecoming. However on Wednesday night's Footy Classified, former Collingwood president McGuire said it would be going too far to impose a draft penalty.

“ T hey had a problem, they investigated it,” McGuire said. “Now, OK, it might’ve gone off the rails there, but I don’t think they did anything intentionally wrong.

“ To me, draft picks doesn’t seem like the right thing. Why are you punishing what’s going forward? The president is gone, there was a board upheaval directly about this, the chief executive who was in charge of it is gone, they’ve had horrific reputational damage.

“I just think sometimes in football these days, it doesn’t matter how many times you apologise, when is the end of these things? When can you put a full stop on?

“I don’t think it (the AFL penalty) should affect them going forward. The football team and the members, they had nothing to do with this."

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His comments came after co-host and AFL journalist Damian Barrett said any other penalty against the Hawks, including a fine, would amount to little more than a slap on the wrist. He described it as a 'we lettuce leaf outcome'.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd suggested Hawthorn could bear the brunt of any potential penalty given the investigation came to nought. The families involved have flagged they are considering taking the case to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“ Do you think the AFL will look to make it the opposite, and they need to make a statement here?” Lloyd said. “They’re not going to get Clarkson, they’re not going to get Fagan or Burt, but somebody’s got to pay for this, and it will be Hawthorn.”

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