Risky business on the side fails club and test of plausibility

Dane Swan's mixed messages once his brazen lack of judgment was exposed on Wednesday delivered the clearest response possible that he had made a grave error in openly doing business in the company of key Melbourne underworld figures.

Swan's ''commercial arrangement'' with the Coburg Italian joint Gatto Nero was supposedly one of dozens of public appearances he performs on the side for extra cash. When questioned by Collingwood, Swan said his manager Liam Pickering had orchestrated the gig.

When questioned by Pickering, who knew nothing of the arrangement until Fairfax Media contacted him, Swan said a mate had lined it up for him.

He told both manager and club that he had no idea who was on the guest list and even upon turning up knew no one well. Swan said he had only briefly met Magpie supporter Mick Gatto previously. This is despite the fact that Swan's close friend and former Williamstown teammate Aaron Ramsay was there, to name one.

You have to wonder how many different ways it must be spelt out to footballers that their responsibilities these days, commensurate with their exposure and pay packets, extends beyond an obligation to four quarters of football.

Surely Swan, with his Brownlow and all his associated football glory, must understand how important the integrity of those glories must remain. Chief Police Commissioner Ken Lay put it most simply last year when he told the former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou there was simply no good reason for footballers to fraternise with underworld crime figures.

Organised crime adores sport and has fallen steadily and increasingly in love with Australian sportsmen and specifically footballers at an alarming rate. There might have been a lot wrong with the timing of and the motivation for the staged federal government press conference in early 2013 - Australian sport's so-called blackest day - but the Australian Crime Commission information demanded a dramatic response.

Organised crime has been targeting the AFL and NRL codes for years but the crime commission's information was that football was increasingly at risk of corruption. Footballers are told this in many different ways.

Swan and manager Pickering had the message rammed home to them by Pert and Eddie McGuire regarding Swan's off-field behaviour at the end of 2012. Early in 2013 the player responded by doing a deal with The Footy Show behind Collingwood's back. Certain questions were reportedly off-limits but Swan denied he had a drug problem.

In football terms, he knuckled down under Nathan Buckley's new regime last year and played some brilliant football. Swan owed Collingwood that.

But he has let his club down this week. It seems implausible that Swan, for all his ''couldn't give a stuff'' response to correct behaviours, did not know even once he arrived he was speaking at a function infiltrated by at least a handful of underworld figures and that such a move was not advisable. And once exposed, he owed the Magpies the full truth.

This story Risky business on the side fails club and test of plausibility first appeared on WA Today.