Ricky Nixon crisis a wake-up call to everyone in AFL

Ricky Nixon

Ricky Nixon leaves the Herald Sun building. Picture: Craig Borrow Source: Herald Sun

SEVERAL weeks ago, I wrote in these pages about the scandal enveloping St Kilda Football Club.

The first person to email me that day was none other than player manager Ricky Nixon, who wanted to defend the 17-year-old girl and the players at the centre of the crisis.

He accused me of taking a cheap shot at the parties involved and of not being in possession of the facts. As it turns out, he was launching the dogged defence after his alleged sexual encounter with the teenager.

The facts as they now read are far more tawdry than anyone could have imagined and place Nixon in a position way beyond mere player manager.

Nixon stands accused today of a liaison with the troubled teenager which involved the 47-year-old going to the girl’s hotel on several occasions.

He denies her claims they had sex, but admits he took alcohol to her room. Several tapes and videos mean Nixon may find his denials fall on deaf ears.

The deeply troubled and troublesome teenager had used her not inconsiderable skills as a social networker to document her alleged affair with Nixon.

She allegedly spent Valentine’s Day with married Nixon and had several other romantic encounters with him.

When it inevitably went pear-shaped, the girl hit Twitter again, claiming Nixon had wronged her and she had photographic evidence of an affair.

“This is it,” she wrote. “It is now officially over. Ultimate payback.”

In coming days, we will see the very public unravelling of a deeply disturbing episode, which should send alarm bells ringing through every professional football organisation and media outlet.

Ricky Nixon has ruled the roost in Melbourne for many years as manager to the AFL‘s biggest stars — including Wayne Carey and Ben Cousins — and creating his own headlines in the process.

As his life unravelled in recent years, with several charges against his name for alcohol-related offences, he remained a powerful player in the AFL.

While commentators and administrators knew he was unstable, the young players he mentors have stuck solid and loyal, refusing to sack him.

This week, many of them, including arguably the game’s biggest star, Nick Riewoldt, will have that loyalty sorely tested as the blowtorch is applied.

Nixon faces severe sanctions from the AFL agents’ association, which may mean he is out of a job by week’s end.

But it’s not just Nixon who will receive a wake-up call when the dust settles on the St Kilda scandal.

The AFL, young players, professional football clubs and media organisations need to review the saga and learn from the mistakes made in recent months.

There is no doubt the teenage girl spelt trouble from the beginning. She wreaked havoc with several young footballers and used social networking to spread her vengeance.

The footballers, by the way, were far from blameless. They should have known better and been counselled.

Instead, denials and protecting of reputations became more important than the fact these young men were dealing with a girl who was under age.

Riewoldt was caught in the middle of it, forced to defend himself when nude photographs of him found their way to Facebook. The game’s best-known face is old enough to know better than be snapped by teammates naked.

St Kilda tried to manage the scandal in-house when the AFL and even the police should have been called in.

Instead of just going away, as everyone had hoped, the girl held all and sundry to ransom for months.

She may finally get some desperately needed psychiatric help.

She has been manipulating all of the parties involved in this scandal, including the media and, more particularly, this newspaper. She has done so by dangling the lure of more pictures and videos.

The AFL is finally involved. So, too, the player agents’ association which will rule on Nixon’s future.

When it is over, the AFL may like to use it as the main reason for introducing rules on players visiting high schools and developing mechanisms for dealing with the power of social networking.

It may also be the wake-up call clubs, players and the AFL needed to curtail the power of player managers, those men dubbed the parasites of sport by the multitudes who have been at the wrong end of dealings with them.

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