Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto has refused to comment about reports linking him to the Essendon supplements saga.
“I’m going to show you all the respect you deserve – I’m sorry I can’t comment,” he told reporters at a restaurant strip in the city.
It came after the Herald Sun on Thursday reported a former Essendon employee’s claim that a senior club official in November 2014 asked him to enlist Mr Gatto’s help – a claim the AFL club vehemently disputed.
The Essendon drug scandal in 2011 and 2012 led to the club being kicked out of the 2013 finals series and 34 players being suspended for the 2016 season for using banned substances.
Mr Gatto told reporters he would meet at midday on Thursday, but when he appeared at the front of a Lygon Street restaurant, he politely declined to comment on the allegations
He told reporters they would “hear all about it” on a television show on Thursday night.
He said he was not being paid for the television interview, he was doing it because they’d showed him respect in the past.
“I’ve organised this meeting today to get you away from my home, (so you’d) leave my family alone.”
Former team services manager John Elliott claims a senior Essendon official asked him to set up a meeting in late 2014 with Mr Gatto to get information on a supplier to Stephen Dank, the Herald Sun reported.
Essendon Chairman Lindsay Tanner, who joined the club’s board in mid-2015, labelled Mr Elliott a “disgruntled” employee.
“Allegations of having dealings with Mick Gatto are false,” Mr Tanner said in a statement on Thursday.
“Inappropriate demands and threats made upon Essendon Football Club have been reported to the AFL Integrity Department and, on its advice, Victoria Police have been contacted.”