A further twist in Mark Thompson's turbulent relationship with Essendon could see the club agree to cover the $30,000 unpaid fine that has put the 2014 Bombers' coach at odds with the AFL.
In a frank discussion with Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday Thompson has assured the league chief that he will honour his penalty, handed down as part of Essendon's 2012 governance and welfare failings.
That assurance means Thompson will avoid punishment from the AFL Commission meeting in Perth over Thursday and Friday. The commission had the right to not only ban the dual premiership coach from working in the football industry, but also to block Thompson from attending AFL games.
This would have prevented him from expanding his media work in 2015. Shown the door by Essendon chairman Paul Little last week, Thompson, already contributing to Fox Footy, has engaged Elite Sports Properties' Craig Kelly and is in negotiations with 3AW to play a key role in the radio network's football coverage. He is believed to be fielding a number of media offers.
Essendon is believed to have given some ground on its previous assurance it would not help Thompson with his AFL fine. As the 2014 senior coach negotiates his messy exit from the Bombers, the club he captained to the 1993 premiership, Fairfax Media believes he could also push for a small settlement given the nature and the timing of his removal.
Little told Thompson he had no job at the club some six weeks after virtually offering him the senior coaching role. Thompson publicly put his hand up for the job at Essendon's Crichton Medal count in the belief that James Hird would be removed as coach.
Deeply upset at being singled out and fined by the AFL and also at being let go by Essendon on the eve of the 2015 pre-season, Thompson now has legal representatives in negotiations with Essendon's lawyers. They will argue that the Bombers left him little time to move to another club.
Thompson has told friends he regrets agreeing to the AFL penalty, which he claims to have signed under duress. Fairfax Media expects him to request an opportunity to put his case to McLachlan and chairman Mike Fitzpatrick after the fine has been paid, in a bid to set the record straight and clear his reputation.
Consistent evidence from the ASADA investigation last year recorded that Thompson never encouraged the potentially dangerous and allegedly illegal injecting regime and on two occasions fought to prevent it.
The AFL has accepted the payment could now be further delayed while the issue of who will accept responsibility for the $30,000 is resolved.
Essendon was fined $2 million for bringing the game into disrepute and paid Hird an estimated $700,000 while he was on sabbatical, banned from working in football. It recently settled on $1 million with former high performance boss Dean Robinson, as well as covering his six-figure wage for close to six months after he was stood down. The club's legal bills to date have been conservatively estimated at $1 million.