Saints may consider their legal options - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Saints may consider their legal options

By Guy Hand 23/08/2007 11:47:34 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda refused to rule out legal action to have player Steven Baker's seven-match ban overturned after the AFL appeals board threw out his bid to beat the suspension.

St Kilda president Rod Butterss said the club would now think about its options after the appeals board backed the AFL Tribunal's ruling earlier this week that Baker was guilty of rough conduct over an incident which left Fremantle's Jeff Farmer with facial injuries.

Baker's seven-match ban is the biggest AFL suspension in a decade.

Not since Carlton's Greg Williams was given nine weeks for pushing a field umpire in 1997 has a player been hit so heavily, though a fair chunk of the penalty was activated by Baker's poor previous disciplinary record.

On Thursday night, Butterss wasn't ruling out court action to have Baker's suspension overturned, and said the club would now consider its next move.

"We are extremely disappointed. We are going to go away and have a little think about it," Butterss said.

With official AFL avenues exhausted, the Saints' next step to free Baker would have to be through the legal system - a move which could open a minefield for the league's judicial process.

An ashen-faced Baker left the marathon three-hour hearing without comment, while Butterss consulted with the Saints legal team for several minutes after the hearing in a private room before emerging.

Baker will miss the Saints' final two home-and-away matches of the season, starting with Friday night's clash with West Coast at Telstra Dome.

He could also miss the first five rounds of next year should the Saints not make this season's finals.

St Kilda's legal team unsuccessfully argued the tribunal's original finding showed "considerable unfairness" in convicting Baker on the basis of his own evidence that he moved into Farmer's path to block him while the Dockers player was running at pace.

Saints counsel Philip Priest told the appeals board Baker's hefty ban for effectively telling the truth to AFL investigators and the tribunal could act as a deterrent to players doing the same in the future.

"If Mr Baker comes along and tells the truth and gets a seven-match suspension, what message does that send to players?" he told the board.

The AFL's legal counsel Andrew Tinney said Baker's admitted actions had led to Farmer's broken nose and concussion.

"He took a step which caused a violent collision. He knew the player was behind him and running fast," Tinney told the appeals board.

"He caused the collision, and the collision led to serious injury."

The Saints were also unable to convince the three-man appeals board the tribunal had erred in law by finding Baker guilty of rough conduct over the incident.

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