Essendon Football Club Chairman Paul Little has made the following statement relating to the upcoming NAB Challenge Competition. 

“It has always been the Essendon Football Club’s intention to work with the AFL to find a pragmatic solution to this complicated issue.

The ongoing uncertainty of the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal outcome and the restrictions on our players competing due to provisional suspensions has put the Club, our players and the AFL in a difficult position.

At no stage has the Club refused to take part in the NAB Challenge competition. We needed to carefully consider the ramifications on all stakeholders involved.

We understand the importance of our commitment to play in the pre-season competition and our responsibility to the broader AFL community, this has never been in question.

It has been an incredibly sensitive and delicate matter. We respect the importance of player anonymity and support the AFL’s proposal to exclude all 2012 listed players from the NAB Challenge to protect the identity of our players with provisional suspensions.

The unavailability of our 2012 listed players, our injured players and the physical conditioning and preparation of some of our younger and older players, added to the complexity and time required to find the best solution for us to play in the NAB Challenge competition.

The solution involving the confidentiality issues being respected and the use of non Essendon listed top up players is appropriate under the circumstances.

Our objective has always been to work closely with the AFL to find an appropriate outcome in the best interests of all stakeholders.”