St George Illawarra Dragons Chairman Craig Young has drawn some strong reactions after it was revealed that he used stationery adorned with the club's iconic branding to write and submit a character reference for disgraced former NRL player Brett Finch.
Finch is currently awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to sharing child abuse material through an online service. He was arrested in December last year.
Young, a former police officer, is within his rights to offer a character reference to any personal relation or acquaintance, but many Dragons fans and members have taken issue with the fact that he chose to write his lengthy endorsement on a letterhead explicitly covered in Dragons branding, associating the club with the matter in an unflattering way.
I've known Brett Finch for the majority of his life… The Finch family are very decent and honest people and take great pride in their standing within the community and the examples they set.”
This is unconscionable. If Craig Young wanted to provide a 'personal character reference' personal being the operative word, for the accused Brett Finch charged with child abuse; he could have done so without using @NRL_Dragons letterhead. How did the Board allow this? #RedV #NRL pic.twitter.com/v06oojVmNP
— Daniel Watson Hayes™ (@dwatsonhayes) October 20, 2022
Craig Young was right about the Dragons culture being bad. How do you give a reference on Dragons letterhead as Chairman for Brett Finch? @NRL_Dragons pic.twitter.com/mbDRUWyMln
— Macca (@pmacpher3) October 20, 2022
@NRL_Dragons This club is out of control. Why is our club Chairman Craig Young writing a letter, as referee for Brett Finch, on our Club Letterhead? The Board of Directors need to act now and move these, obviously inept people away from the club or be held negligent themselves. pic.twitter.com/qU8kruDoZ9
— Benny (@saintbenny63) October 20, 2022
Do not blame the club for this. This was a poor, selfish individual decision. https://t.co/VZxyLxKJPa
— Jack Brady (@JackBraydes) October 20, 2022
The letter to the court goes on to detail Young's history with Finch, praising his leadership skills, sportsmanship and monitoring his teammate's behaviour.
It then points to the remorse and embarrassment Finch has felt, as well as his ongoing struggles with mental health.
“I believe he has learnt the strongest of lesson (sic) from this matter.”
Young then clarifies that he is a person who “despises” this behaviour, before claiming Finch had simply made a mistake and won't be seen in front of the courts again.
UPDATE: The Dragons have confirmed knowledge of the letter, confirming that it was in no way endorsed or approved by the club.
"It was an error in judgement to put this statement on club letterhead," Young said.