Adelaide director and club legend Mark Ricciuto has come under heavy criticism for detailing the circumstances behind a player exodus from the club.
The Crows have been hammered for their historic 75-point loss to Port Adelaide in Saturday night’s Showdown and on Wednesday, Ricciuto tried to defend the club’s inability to hold onto star players as fortunes have plummeted since an appearance in the 2017 grand final.
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Speaking on his Triple M radio show Roo & Ditts, Ricciuto gave a detailed explanation as to why players like Patrick Dangerfield, Jake Lever, Charlie Cameron and Mitch McGovern left Adelaide, saying it mostly revolved around an inability or unwillingness to meet contract demands.
But veteran AFL journalist Caroline Wilson blasted Ricciuto for his “appalling” comments, saying they show a lack of accountability to accept the Crows’ own failings.
“To me that is appalling for a club director,” Wilson said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified. “He’s insulted McGovern obviously … and Jake Lever.
“He’s upset three clubs, because he’s basically talked about how much they’re being paid, and he has completely failed to accept or acknowledge that Adelaide have a problem.
“Players never leave for just money alone.”
On the same program, former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said it was “unbecoming” for a club director to be airing those details publicly.
Collingwood President Eddie McGuire questioned what was wrong with Ricciuto being transparent, prompting Wilson to accuse the Crows great of not having his facts straight.
“Because he’s deluded. That’s not what’s going on. Charlie Cameron did not leave for money alone,” Wilson said. “Alex Keath did not leave for money alone.
“The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne and Brisbane would be pretty disappointed at talking about what their players are being paid.
“If I was a manager or a parent thinking about where I was going to send my son, I’d think, ‘Well if that’s what he says about players who leave’ … I mean that was pretty insulting.”
Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd praised Ricciuto for speaking “a lot of truth” and said he was “bang on” about the reasoning behind several players’ exits, but Wilson didn’t agree.
“Do you honestly think if Charlie Cameron had been happy — he left at the end of a year when they were the best club in the competition except they stuffed up the grand final,” she said.
“Charlie Cameron didn’t leave for money. Alex Keath didn’t leave for money.
“Every club has players who could earn a lot of money elsewhere. They don’t leave their clubs if they’re happy.
“I’m saying I’m hoping that they (the Crows) are looking more inwardly at themselves and why these players keep leaving because there’s an ongoing exodus through those doors at Adelaide and it’s not just because of money.”
RICCIUTO DEFENDS HIMSELF AMID CLAIMS OF DISRESPECT
Essendon great Tim Watson said Ricciuto’s headline-grabbing segment was an “own goal”.
“This is putting out there and then having to respond to it because you created a mess in the first place and you thrust the spotlight back on your own football club,” he said on SEN Breakfast.
Melbourne legend Garry Lyon added the comments showed a lack of respect for Adelaide’s departed players.
“The first reaction is to put the blame on someone else,” Lyon told SEN Breakfast.
“You respect people coming into your club and you respect people going out. You don’t do your business through the media. Good clubs don’t do their business through the media.
“All of a sudden, you’ve just thrown your footy club back in the spotlight again. All these things swirl around because you play your business out in the media.”
Journalist Damian Barrett wrote in his column for afl.com.au Ricciuto should step down from the Crows board after his “condescending” remarks. “Ricciuto’s tirade on Wednesday morning was next level when it came to self-inflicted brand damage,” Barrett wrote.
However, Ricciuto stood by his comments on Thursday, saying he didn’t mean to sling mud at anyone.
“I wasn’t trying to offend McGovern or Jake (Lever) or anyone,” Ricciuto said on Triple M.
“If they get a contract offer that’s higher and they get some security then good luck to them for taking it. That’s what most people would do in society, they’ve got to look after themselves.
“It wasn’t trying to have a crack at them, it was trying to make Crows fans understand why some players have left and the reason why.”
RICCIUTO’S EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY PLAYERS LEFT
Patrick Dangerfield (joined Geelong in 2016): “Dangerfield was never going to stay, we would’ve paid whatever we could to keep Patrick Dangerfield, he’s absolutely loyal, loves Moggs Creek (in Victoria). He would’ve never stayed … we never even got to money.”
Charlie Cameron (joined Brisbane in 2018): “Charlie Cameron was one of few that we didn’t want to lose. He got a very, very good contract from Brisbane who were down the bottom of the ladder and had plenty of money in their salary cap. We couldn’t match that, absolutely not. This was at 2017, when you’re at the top of the ladder and you salary cap is chock-a-block you haven’t got much room to move. We didn’t want to lose him, but we lost him.”
Jake Lever (joined Melbourne in 2018): “Jake Lever got a five-year deal on $800,000 to 850,000 (per season), very comfortable that we let him go on that money. He’s probably a 500,000 player.”
Mitch McGovern (joined Carlton in 2019): “Comfortable that he goes. We love people that contest in the forward line and have got plenty of speed, and we need speed in the forward line, but once again 800-and-something thousand. Has he delivered for Carlton yet? No.”
Eddie Betts (joined Carlton in 2020): “We need to get some youth into our side, he’s 33, we were comfortable for him to go. That’s not a request to leave, that was a mutual agreement.”
Josh Jenkins (joined Geelong in 2020): “Very happy for him to go. Once again, age in our forward line. We needed to get some youth into our forward line. Very comfortable, we’re even paying part of his contract, same with Eddie Betts.”
Hugh Greenwood (joined Gold Coast in 2020): “That was as much our call or probably more our call. Everyone says we’ve got the slowest midfield in the competition, you can’t just keep having those players in your midfield and then whinge that you’ve got a slow midfield. He’s 28 this year and not going to be playing in our next premiership side so we’re trying to get draft picks in to rebuild.”
Alex Keath (joined Western Bulldogs in 2020): “Got offered a massive amount of money to go to Western Bulldogs, a large amount of money. More than double what he was on at Adelaide. That’s what he wanted and if we kept him we would’ve lost more players.”