Suns threaten legal action amid calls for heads to roll
GOLD Coast chief executive Mark Evans has threatened legal action against any player manager who attempts to block a draftee's move to the Suns.
The Suns are certain to receive picks No.2 and No.3 (as Tom Lynch compensation) in this year's draft after falling to a 96-point thrashing from Melbourne at the MCG.
The malaise at the Queensland club has been laid bare by former staff members who have detailed the training facility problems which have plagued the club until this year, sparking a player exodus.
In has also been revealed Richmond premiership list architect Blair Hartley has become the latest senior club figure to knock back an offer to join the AFL's $200 million problem child.
Hartley turned down an offer from the Suns to become their new footy boss late last year.
Hartley joins respected figures including Richmond's Neil Balme, Geelong footy boss Simon Lloyd and former Collingwood fitness guru David Buttifant who have turned down the Suns in recent years.
The Suns are also struggling to attract fresh top-end playing talent.
Collingwood premiership coach Michael Malthouse said he was aware some potential draftees were now reluctant to go to Gold Coast at the end of the season.
Player managers have confirmed they were unwilling to trade their clients to the Queensland club due to their limited on-field prospects.
But Evans said he would launch court action "as quick as we can" against any attempts to block a draftee's move north to the Suns' in November's national draft.
"The only thing I can think where this might have come from, is there are some kids and some families that have a preference not to travel interstate," Evans said.
"But I've yet to hear someone say directly to me, 'don't come to the Gold Coast'. That is ridiculous.
"Tell them to get on the radio and put their balls on the line on radio, and then I'll smash them in the court."
Malthouse was adamant some underage players were not keen to be drafted by the Suns.
"Managers have been told by potential recruits for next year 'I do not want to go to Gold Coast'," Malthouse said.
"It is a fact. I know several players who have indicated that and that is tampering with the draft."
Footy greats have declared a state of emergency at the Queensland club as it rallies for an emergency assistance package including a priority draft pick at season's end.
Leading agent Liam Pickering also said the club needs up to an extra $2 million a year in its salary cap to retain and sign players.
The Suns are determined to again rebuild through the draft after Lynch told the club, as expected, he would leave under free agency rules in October.
The club also faces a fight to keep other senior stars including captain and key defender Steven May, who is out of contract at the end of next season.
Senior coach Stuart Dew said the club would look to re-sign May, amid interest from Collingwood.
"'Maysie' is not alone there," Dew said.
"There are a lot of guys who are out of contract, so we will always look for early commitment from our players and then from that answer we move forward.
"We have got some work to do to make sure that players want to stay."
North Melbourne champion Wayne Carey said the Suns should trade May if he doesn't recommit.
"It's just not healthy for their footy club right now to go through a similar situation to what they have this year (with Lynch)," Carey said.
"If it means Steven May is another who says 'I'll wait', or in other words I want to leave, then he goes (this year)."
Ex-St Kilda coach Grant Thomas says emergency assistance for the Gold Coast Suns should be followed by the resignations of all senior AFL officials involved in the establishment of the club.
The $200 million "Bad News Suns" are set to apply for a priority draft pick and extra financial support after an eighth-consecutive failed season since joining the league in 2011.
Thomas said rival clubs should demand fresh concessions are made on the proviso AFL officials behind its foundation fall on their sword.
"Decent people, when they've completely wasted and thrown down the drain bucket loads of other people's money, hold themselves accountable for that - but I wouldn't be holding my breathe," Thomas said.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and league broadcasting boss Travis Auld played major roles in the creation of the competition's 17th club.
Auld was the club's inaugural chief executive, while McLachlan and ex-AFL strategist Andrew Catterall were driving forces of expansion back in Melbourne.
An industry heavyweight said: "If it was a public company like BHP, a lot of people would be in trouble. They just wouldn't last."
Former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and retired league commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick were the other key drivers behind the creation of the Suns and Greater Western Sydney.
Gold Coast entered its first season under a rookie coach (McKenna), a first-time chief executive (Auld), an untried captain (Gary Ablett) and beginner football boss (Marcus Ashcroft).
"Before any assistance is agreed, one must look at what has happened - and why it has happened - and where those responsibilities lie to avoid something like this happening again," Thomas said.
"There needs to be a very strong focus on the people in charge of those decisions and their level of culpability.
"Unfortunately, within the AFL there's an 'all care no responsibility' culture that has evolved."
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett said last month the Suns' malaise was "an issue, in one sense, of the AFL's own making".
"What we are seeing today is a reflection of concerns that were raised when we were told there was going to be two new clubs," Kennett said.
"Now the AFL has got to deal with it, there is no way anyone else can."
Suns players were forced to train and prepare out of portable facilities until late last year and were denied resources in welfare, fitness and sports science.
It was Demetriou who drove the contentious decision to lure NRL star Karmichael Hunt to the Suns on a massive $1 million-a-season contract.
Hunt was later implicated in a Queensland Crime Commission cocaine scandal and quit the club after just 44 games.
Disgraced fitness chief Dean Robinson and sports scientist Stephen Dank also worked at the club in its formative years, supplying star recruit Nathan Bock with the prohibited peptide CJC-1295 in December 2010.
Gold Coast was gifted eight of the first 13 picks in the 2010 national draft, priority access to uncontracted players and elite junior players, including Ablett, and extra millions in the salary cap as part of its generous start-up provisions.
Skipper Tom Lynch is set to join a long line of gun players to exodus the club including Ablett, Jaeger O'Meara, Dion Prestia, Josh Caddy and Charlie Dixon.
Ex-Suns coach Rodney Eade said last year the club's old facilities were "worse than when I went to the Brisbane Bears".
"People don't realise how archaic the facilities were and what players have had to endure. It is just incredible," Eade said.
"No air-conditioning in the gym when it's 35 degrees and 90 per cent humidity, insects and rats."
Gold Coast Football Club Ltd was registered as a business by the AFL in 2007 with league executives Andrew Dillon, Ian Anderson and Simon Lethlean as directors.
Anderson and Lethlean have since departed.