Australian Rules: Melbourne fined but cleared of throwing matches

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Melbourne FC were fined A$500,000 (S$638,800) and two coaches banned on Tuesday despite the Australian Rules club being cleared of deliberately throwing matches in 2009 to get additional picks in the players' draft.

The Australian Football League (AFL) said an eight month investigation had concluded the "Melbourne FC, its coach and team did not set out to deliberately lose in any matches during the 2009 premiership season".

Nevertheless, the club's then general manager Chris Connolly and senior coach Dean Bailey were banned for a year and the first 16 rounds of the next season respectively for acting "in a manner which was prejudicial to the interests of the AFL".

The club, which won just four of 22 games in the 2009 season, was handed the fine on the grounds that it had "ultimate responsibility" for the conduct of its key employees.

The AFL runs a players' draft similar to those operated in the major American sports, where a team's position at the end of the season determines the order in which they select the new talent with the lowest ranked clubs getting earlier picks.

In rules in force in 2009 but since altered, the worst performing teams got additional picks.

Australia is still reeling after a report from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) 12 days ago alleged doping was widespread, connections with crime figures increasing and match-fixing a concern in professional sport in the country.

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