THE AFL is embroiled in a new scandal involving an "inappropriate relationship" between a married league executive and an AFLW Crows premiership player.
The Advertiser can reveal the fresh controversy just a week after two AFL bosses quit after their affairs with younger employees were exposed.
The AFL is now under pressure to reveal its internal report into women's safe work practices in the wake of the resignations, as it faces accusations of a "dirty" culture and a policy of secrecy.
AFL Northern Territory chief executive Michael Solomon, who is married with children, has been counselled over an "inappropriate relationship" with a Crows women's premiership player and it has been discussed at board level.
It continues a nightmare run for AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, who accepted the resignations of key lieutenants Simon Lethlean and Richard Simkiss last week.
Mr Solomon's relationship with the Crows player has been the subject of much discussion within football circles, drawing attention during the AFLW season earlier this year.
The season ran from February through to March 27. The Crows beat the Brisbane Lions in Queensland to claim the inaugural women's premiership. The Crows team included a number of NT-based players and Mr Solomon travelled from Darwin to be at their games.
Discussions regarding the relationship surfaced again last week, after the resignations of Mr Lethlean and Mr Simkiss.
In a brief response to a series of questions from The Advertiser, an AFL spokesman said: "There is no issue that has required the AFL to take any disciplinary action. We have no further comment." The Crows made a similar statement. But The Advertiser can reveal the AFLNT board, including the AFL's representative, Andrew Dillon, the general manager of the league's legal, integrity and compliance section, are across the issue and it has been discussed at NT board level.
Sources say counselling over an "inappropriate relationship" has been carried out over an extended period, but the nature of that relationship has not been revealed.
The AFL spokesman declined to discuss the extent or otherwise of any investigation, or who undertook the counselling, although The Advertiser has learned that AFLNT board chairman Ross Coburn has been involved.
Mr Solomon has been contacted for comment, but had not responded by deadline. Mr Coburn would not comment.
The latest scandal follows the resignations of AFL football operations manager Lethlean and Simkiss, the general manager of commercial operations, after they were named in media reports.
A new Respect and Responsibility policy for women in Australian football was under AFL consideration before Mr Lethlean and Mr Simkiss resigned last week over affairs with junior staff. But the AFL is yet to confirm whether the report and research from consultants Rapid Context about its policy for a safe environment would be released in full or in part.
Former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas accused the AFL of trashing transparency unless it released the report and research in its entirety.
"They would not want the media to have that, and that cuts to the very integrity of the leadership and the competition as a whole,'' he said.
"What they would want to do is massage that and have it in a shape that their own internal media department can release first.'' Thomas backed calls for an AFL governance probe. "You've got to actually have the desire to clean it up, and before you have the desire to clean it up you've got to recognise that it's dirty,'' he said.
The new Respect and Responsibility policy is believed to have been handed to the AFL Commission last month.