TANIA Hird says AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has known all along that her husband, James, is being paid by Essendon during his suspension.
In her first public comments since footy’s supplements scandal broke in February, Hird’s wife has slammed Demetriou’s claims that the suspended coach is banned from receiving a salary.
Mrs Hird has accused the AFL of a “total disregard for the truth” and “appalling” behaviour throughout the drugs saga.
She has also called on the league to stop “threatening” her husband and Bombers.
Mrs Hird has called for the league to back off.
“In my opinion, it’s time for the AFL to stop threatening my husband, it’s time for them to stop threatening the club, and it’s time for them to stop distorting the truth. Their behaviour this year has been appalling,” she said.
A furious Mrs Hird said the Essendon coach accepted his ban only as a result of threats.
“James took a 12-month suspension because he was threatened,” she said.
“The club was threatened, he was threatened.
“In the end the club said, you know, it’s in the best interests of the club, we need to move on, which is what we did.”
With the week-long stand-off over the Essendon coach’s pay continuing, Mrs Hird broke her silence on Wednesday.
“Of course he’s being paid, that was the deal,” Mrs Hird said.
“Andrew Demetriou knew it, the AFL knew it.”
Her comments contradict Demetriou’s categorical statement last Wednesday that Hird was not being paid by the AFL or by Essendon.
“If there is one thing I will go to my grave on, I know 100 per cent the AFL is not paying and I know that Essendon is not paying,” the league chief told 3AW.
Mrs Hird launched her tirade after being approached outside the family’s Toorak home.
The mother-of-four added that Hird would have taken the AFL to court if pay was not on the table.
“We wouldn’t have taken a sanction without pay, we would have taken the AFL to the Supreme Court and they knew that, Demetriou knew that,” she said.
It was revealed last week within hours of Demetriou’s pay claims that Hird was still pocketing a salary.
The league then admitted there was nothing in writing in the AFL Commission’s final agreement on sanctions but claimed Essendon gave a verbal guarantee not to pay Hird two weeks after the August hearing.
But Mrs Hird, a commercial property lawyer, rubbished the assertion.
“You can’t change an agreement without somebody’s knowledge and without their say so,” she said.
“James agreed to a sanction with pay and that’s what it was, Andrew knew that.”
Asked whether she believed the AFL boss should clarify the situation, she said she could not tell Demetriou what to do.
“There’s a lot of things I would like to say to Andrew Demetriou over this year but I think I’ve said enough,” she said.
Mrs Hird said the public was not being given the whole truth about the supplements scandal that rocked Essendon and the AFL and the subsequent hearing.
“It’s just the distortion of the truth and, you know, it’s been really hard to take,” she said.
Demetriou raised the pay issue in a response to revelations that Hird had been given inducements, including a guaranteed salary during any suspension, amid secret negotiations between Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie and Bombers chairman Paul Little.
Demetriou has been silent since the claims that Hird was not being paid.