AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou has questioned the integrity of Ross Lyon for quitting as St Kilda coach after holding talks with Fremantle by stealth.

As Lyon flew across the country to be unveiled by the Dockers as their new coach, Demetriou said football fans were entitled to question the value of contracts and commitments.

Fremantle last night sacked Mark Harvey – who still had a year to run on his contract – to make way for Lyon, who still had a year to run on his own contract with the Saints.

Demetriou said the developments cast the principles of contracts and agreements and those involved in the saga in a poor light.

“I think it is understandable that people are questioning the value of contracts and commitments and so forth,” he told 3AW.

“I feel desperately for Mark Harvey. As I understand it, he was in a meeting talking about list management for next year … he’s an individual with a family, children and thinking about his welfare. And he’s out of contract when he’s got another year of a contract to go. I feel for him.

“I’m not privy to all of the inside discussions re Ross Lyon, but I think we can probably read something into what Craig Kelly, his manager, did in terminating their agreement … on balance I think people are entitled to ask questions about issues of commitment and integrity.”

St Kilda maintains it expected Lyon to sign a new contract with the club after dealing with his management, Elite Sports Properties. ESP last night sacked Lyon for dealing with the Dockers without its knowledge.

Lyon’s move comes a year after Mark Thompson left Geelong to take a role as assistant coach with Essendon despite he and the Bombers insisting for months they were not holding talks.

Demetriou said it was a case of double standards for coaches to seek commitment from their players and not show the same devotion.

“It is reasonable for people to ask, if coaches are asking players to commit and to play a certain way and asking them to sign up to certain values … you can understand – and I’m using a generalisation here, not talking about anyone specifically – but if all of a sudden if they don’t behave in the way that we’re asking them to behave, it sort of reeks of hypocrisy and people see through that,” he said.

“Again, I’m not privy to what all the information is here, but from an outsider looking in, I do understand why people would be scratching their heads.”

The AFL Coaches Association also offered support for Harvey, and said it was “extremely disappointed” he was not given the chance to complete his contract.

Association chief executive Danny Frawley said the expectations of clubs of coaches was becoming “onerous and unrealistic”.

“Given the injury rate at Fremantle this year, Mark did a remarkable job in keeping the team in contention until the very end of the season,” said Frawley, a former Richmond coach.

“Regardless of contract payouts, coaches simply want to be given the opportunity to complete their tenure, in this case a two-year contract extension agreed upon only 12 months ago.

“Harvs is shattered that he won’t get the opportunity to finish on good terms with Fremantle, a club to which he has given his all.”

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