Melbourne’s Harley Bennell has been suspended for four matches and will be sent home to WA after breaching the AFL’s strict COVID-19 protocols.
In what’s been described by the club as a “selfish act”, Bennell left the hub and attempted to visit “an unauthorised residence” without AFL approval, resulting in a $50,000 fine for the Demons.
In a statement on Sunday night, Melbourne confirmed it was “extremely disappointed” in Bennell’s behaviour.
BENNELL INVESTIGATED OVER POSSIBLE COVID BREACH
“This is a selfish act by Harley, and a clear breach of the AFL’s protocols,” Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said.
“He has made a very poor decision, which is incredibly disappointing. He has not only put himself, his teammates and the competition at risk, but he has failed to live up to the values of the Melbourne Football Club.
“Harley knew the rules. He understands the extent of his actions and is incredibly remorseful for his behaviour. He has made a terrible mistake and has been punished accordingly.
“On behalf of the Melbourne Football Club, I sincerely apologise to the AFL and the Queensland Government for the embarrassment and harm that this incident has caused.”
According to the Herald Sun, the troubled ex-Docker was allegedly involved in a Saturday drinking session in Queensland – but the Demons have not confirmed that report.
Pert confirmed Melbourne would accept the penalty handed down by the AFL and would provide assistance to Bennell as he returns home to WA.
“Our responsibility now is to ensure we support Harley and his family, during what is a very challenging period for them,” he said.
The Demons, who were still in finals contention when the breach occurred, are now out of the running in 2020 after the Western Bulldogs defeated Fremantle.
Bennell was given a final AFL lifeline by the Dees at the start of 2020 after an injury stalled career.
He was drafted by the Gold Coast and played more than 80 games for the club before returning home to WA to play for Fremantle.
But it was there his career failed to take off, with both injuries and off-field behaviour restricting his AFL appearances to just two in four seasons.
Bennell was delisted by Fremantle in 2019, but underwent radical calf surgery in a bid to re-start his AFL career with Melbourne.
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