UPDATE: The AFL has confirmed Richmond players Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones will be immediately sent packing from Queensland after breaching the sport’s return to play protocols.
The pair have been charged with public nuisance by Queensland Police after becoming involved in a fight outside the Hollywood Showgirls strip club in Surfers Paradise around 3.30am on Friday.
The AFL said the pair breached the code’s strict protocols after “taking an Uber, visiting a non-approved Gold Coast venue and becoming involved in an incident that involved police.”
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As a result, the players have been suspended for 10 matches, a suspension that will stretch across both the remainder of the 2020 Season, Finals and the start of the 2021 season.
The Tigers have also been fined $100,000 for the breach, $75,000 for this breach and a further $25,000 that was the suspended amount from a previous breach.
According to the club, both Stack and Coleman-Jones will pay the $75,000 fine, while Richmond will pay the $25,000 fine.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillon said the AFL’s protocols are the competition’s license to play and any breach would be held into account.
“It is a privilege to be able to continue our competition, and with that privilege comes responsibility. The actions of the players are not only irresponsible but disrespectful to the competition and everyone associated with it,” Mr Dillon said.
“There is simply no excuse for this breach. The two players knew the rules and chose to ignore them, putting the safety of everyone at risk.”
“The behaviour of the players is not what we expect, regardless of whether any protocols are in place or not.”
In a statement, Richmond detailed how the dramatic event played out.
“With a three-day break in their training program, the players had been drinking alcohol at a Club and AFL-sanctioned event at the hub,” the club said.
“The pair chose to continue drinking at the completion of the function in their rooms before going out and attending a venue.”
They said Coleman-Jones sustained minor facial injuries in the altercation and was treated in hospital, while Stack was taken into custody by Queensland Police before being released.
“Both players returned to the Club separately, and since the Club was made aware of the breach, the players have been quarantining separately in their rooms”.
Richmond CEO Brendon Gale said he was incredibly disappointed in the pair.
“Richmond – like all Clubs – has a responsibility to the game, and the broader AFL community, to observe the COVID-19 protocols that the AFL has put in place. Clearly Callum and Sydney did not meet that responsibility this week, and we are incredibly disappointed,” Gale said.
“The Club can’t ignore the fact that off-field we have got some things wrong in recent months. We need to own that as a Club and get better. We all accept that this has been a difficult year, but it is no excuse for some of the mistakes we have made.
“These players made very poor decisions after consuming too much alcohol, choosing to leave the Club’s hub in the early hours of Friday morning, and in doing so potentially putting themselves, their teammates and the AFL season at risk.
“Their decision to attend a venue while outside the hub was also completely unacceptable, and in no way aligns with what we stand for as a Club. They have let down themselves, teammates, our members and supporters, our partners and the entire AFL industry.
“Yes, young people can make mistakes, but we expect better. There is absolutely no excuse for what took place. We do however recognise we need to support and educate them. They have learned a very hard lesson and we need to help them earn back the trust and respect of the Club.”
He said both players are extremely remorseful and apologise for their actions.
“That apology extends to the Queensland Government and Police who have far more significant matters to attend to in these difficult times,” Mr Gale said.
“We are a strong, successful Club and we will work hard to deliver a Club that meets community expectations and makes our members and supporters proud.”
EARLIER: Two Richmond players have been busted breaching the AFL’s strict COVID-19 protocols after the pair were involved in a fight outside a strip club on the Gold Coast early this morning.
Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones allegedly became involved in a brawl after the pair were evicted from Hollywood Showgirls on Orchid Avenue in Surfers Paradise.
Police confirmed they were called to the scene around 3.30am this morning and took the pair into custody.
“Police arrested two men following a disturbance in Surfers Paradise early this morning,” Qld police said in a statement.
“Officers responded to reports of two men, aged 20 and 21, involved in a physical altercation on Orchid Avenue.”
Both Stack and Coleman-Jones sustained facial injuries in the altercation.
They have both been issued with a Police Banning Notice, excluding them from Gold Coast Safe Night Precincts and a Penalty Infringement Notice for Public Nuisance (Violent Behaviour).
Police say further investigations are continuing, while the AFL has confirmed they are aware of the incident and is also investigating.
If found guilty, Fox Sports reports Richmond could be fined up to $100,000 and both players would face suspensions.
Under the AFL’s strict coronavirus protocols, players, their familes and officials are not allowed to attend confined spaces including bars and restaurants, even after completing their two-week quarantine.
Richmond said in a statement a short time ago that the pair have been based inside the Club’s player hub on the Gold Coast and had already undertaken their 14-day quarantine in July.
“They are not part of the current quarantine hub where AFL officials, players and family members are undertaking the required 14-day quarantine period,” the statement reads.
“The club is not in a position to comment further until the investigation is complete.”
Richmond has become aware of a breach of AFL Covid-19 protocol by two of its players, in the early hours of Friday morning.
The Club immediately reported the breach of protocols to the AFL, and is working with the League to investigate the matter.
— Richmond FC 🐯🏆 (@Richmond_FC) September 4, 2020