Bennell cops four-match ban for AFL breach

Harley Bennell has been slapped with a four-match ban for breaching COVID-19 protocols.
Harley Bennell has been slapped with a four-match ban for breaching COVID-19 protocols.

Melbourne midfielder Harley Bennell has been banned for four matches and the club has been slapped with a $50,000 fine after the former Docker breached the AFL's return-to-play protocols.

Bennell left the club's hub on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday to "visit an unauthorised residence without approval to do so", according to the Demons.

It's been reported Bennell went there for a drinking session.

When the Demons found out about the breach, they placed Bennell in isolation away from the Twin Waters resort.

The AFL announced on Sunday night Bennell will be suspended for the first four matches of the 2021 season.

It remains to be seen whether that suspension affects Bennell's chances of earning a new one-year deal with the Demons.

Bennell was also ordered to return home - a fate that his teammates will now also share given the Demons missed out on a spot in the finals.

The $50,000 fine will be included in Melbourne's 2021 Soft Cap.

None of it is suspended given the Demons had two players who committed a breach earlier in the season.

"This is a selfish act by Harley, and a clear breach of the AFL's protocols," Melbourne chief executive Gary Pert said.

"He has made a very poor decision, which is incredibly disappointing. He has not only put himself, his teammates and the competition at risk, but he has failed to live up to the values of the Melbourne Football Club.

"On behalf of the Melbourne Football Club, I sincerely apologise to the AFL and the Queensland Government for the embarrassment and harm that this incident has caused.

"Harley knew the rules. He understands the extent of his actions and is incredibly remorseful for his behaviour. He has made a terrible mistake and has been punished accordingly."

Bennell played five matches for Melbourne this year and wasn't part of the travelling squad that beat Essendon at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

Australian Associated Press