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WAFC Statement: Peel Thunder InvestigationFriday, November 13, 2020 - 2:31 PM

Peel Thunder Football Club has been found guilty by the West Australian Football Commission of a deliberate breach of the WAFL Total Player Payment section of the WAFL Rules and Regulations and WAFL License and Funding agreement, during the 2019 season. 

Following a comprehensive and independent investigation into the issue, the WAFC has found that multiple breaches had taken place by Peel Thunder Football Club and Club CEO John Ditchburn, which included; 

-    Deliberately providing false and misleading information in the lodgement of the Total Player Payments (TPP).
-    Providing an undeclared cash payment and other ancillary benefits to a Peel Thunder player.
-    Not advising the WAFC in writing of any potential breach of the WAFL Rules and Regulations.
-    Failing to comply with the WAFL Licence and Funding agreements.
-    Making a number of declaration and compliance related errors.

The investigation also confirmed that the Peel Thunder Football Club did not breach the Total Player Payment limit. 

The penalty matrix for a Total Player Payment breach was reviewed and developed by WAFL Clubs in 2012, creating a revised WAFL Rules and Regulation penalty criteria for the competition. 

In reaching its finding, the WAFC noted that this is Peel Thunder Football Club’s second serious breach of the Total Player Payments rules, meaning a more severe penalty was applied in accordance with the WAFL Rules and Regulations.  

As a result of these findings, John Ditchburn has resigned from his position as Peel Thunder Football Club CEO, to finish by January 31st, 2021.

The WAFC Board has considered the findings of the investigation, feedback from the Peel Thunder Board and the resignation of the Peel Thunder CEO to apply the following penalties for the 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season;

1.    A reduction of 16 Premiership points (with 16 of those points being held over as a suspended penalty)
2.    A reduction of 20 Player Recruitment Points (with 10 of those points being held over as a suspended penalty)
3.    A fine of $50,000  

The WAFC Board, at their discretion, will impose the suspended portion of the penalty at any time should the below governance conditions not be implemented or adhered to within a two-year period (2021/2022) by Peel Thunder FC; 

-    Peel Thunder FC be subject to two financial audits per year with a WAFC Appointed TPP Auditor, at the club’s cost.
-    Peel Thunder FC transition to a WAFC approved auditor by 2021.
-    Peel Thunder FC will conduct a review and provide an updated cash handling process to be approved by the WAFC and re-assessed annually.
-    Peel Thunder FC Board will be required to undergo governance training and an annual Board review.
-    The departing Peel Thunder FC CEO will not be able to fulfill a Board, Committee or senior employment position with the Club for a period of two years.

WAFC Chairman Hon. Wayne Martin said that monitoring and enforcement of Total Player Payment rules is essential to ensuring the integrity of the WAFL Competition, to support the objective of all clubs having an equal opportunity to be competitive and win Premierships.

“This has been a detailed investigation with the findings being deeply considered by the Board of the WAFC in determining the penalties,” Martin said. 

“These penalties reflect the seriousness with which the WAFC views this breach and shows the importance of adhering to the WAFL License and Funding Agreement.”

“The WAFL Rules and Regulations and WAFL License and Funding agreement have been developed to support a competitive and sustainable WAFL Competition for all clubs.” 

“I acknowledge the co-operation and governance changes already being applied by the Peel Thunder Football Club Board as a result of this investigation. However, when clear breaches occur, the WAFC must act accordingly in line with the WAFL Rules and Regulations.”

“The WAFC will work with the Board of Peel Thunder Football Club to implement the governance conditions.” 

The WAFC will be making no further comment on the investigation at this time.