AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) advises the independent Tribunal will not sit for the matter relating to Steven Anderson of the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club after he initially entered an early guilty plea for rough conduct in the TIO NTFL Men’s Premier League match between the Darwin Buffaloes and Wanderers Football Club on Saturday 2 February 2019.
Anderson, through the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club, had submitted an early guilty plea as his response before the 9pm deadline on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday morning the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club contacted the AFLNT Tribunal Secretary (member of Football Operations team) to indicate that Anderson wished to change his plea from guilty to not guilty, citing exceptional circumstances and new witness evidence. This was followed up by written notification at 8:58am on Wednesday morning.
A special meeting of the AFLNT Executive on Wednesday morning and follow-up advice sought from the AFL concluded that AFLNT does not have at its disposal any discretion to operate outside of the AFLNT Rules & Regulations (2019 Edition) or the 2018 State & Territory Tribunal Guidelines which govern all AFL-affiliated leagues in Australia.
In summary, Anderson was able to enter a plea to the charge and change that plea at any time before the 9pm deadline on Tuesday, but he is unable to change his plea after that time. Prior to 9pm, he was also able to request a stay of leave to allow more time to gather material before entering a plea, but this did not happen.
In addition, Anderson, via the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club received his most recent national de-registration warning letter on 12 December 2018, indicating he was sitting on 15-matches suspension and if he was to exceed that he would be de-registered.
A player/official who has been deregistered may not appeal their deregistration until at least 12 months after the date on which they were deregistered.
The Darwin Buffaloes issued the following statement at the time of accepting the early guilty plea on Tuesday night:
“The Darwin Buffaloes Football Club will continue to support Steven and will do everything we can to ensure that once the 12-month period of deregistration is complete, he will seek to be re-registered. This is a difficult time for Steven, and we request that all media enquiries be directed to the Darwin Buffaloes Football Club and that Steven’s privacy is respected.”
As a result, AFLNT will now commence steps to deregister Anderson as the prescribed penalty for his Round 16 rough conduct charge has placed him beyond the 15-game suspension threshold allowed under the national AFL policy.