ADELAIDE will participate in next week's national draft after successfully seeking an adjournment of the AFL Commission's hearing into the serious salary cap and draft tampering charges it faces, as the league's probe widened to examine a third-party payment to midfield star Patrick Dangerfield.
The club has distanced itself from chief executive Steven Trigg, football manager Phil Harper and his predecessor John Reid, with all four parties engaging separate legal representation for the hearing, which has not yet been rescheduled.
It is believed the AFL has accessed an email written by Harper, in which he indicated that Dangerfield, Kurt Tippett and captain Nathan van Berlo had been steered towards a company owned by a former Adelaide board member, Alan Sheppard.
The company, Alan Sheppard Constructions - part of Adelaide's ''Chairman's Circle'' coterie group - paid each player about $20,000 in 2011.
Fairfax Media understands the AFL has also obtained evidence that the Crows' agreement to trade Tippett to the club of his choice for a minimum second-round draft pick was recorded in the minutes of a board meeting held in August 2011.
The league is also aware of alleged discussions between Trigg, Harper and Adelaide finance manager Grant Rutherford about whether the club had room in its salary cap to cover a small shortfall in the third-party payments for Tippett that it had agreed to underwrite.
The AFL agreed to a request from Adelaide and Harper to postpone the hearing, originally scheduled for Monday, to allow both more time to prepare their submissions.
The deals for Dangerfield, Tippett and van Berlo were lodged with the AFL and approved by the league, and Fairfax Media is not suggesting any wrongdoing by the players, or that Adelaide exceeded its salary-cap allowance.
It is also understood Harper and the players' managers went to considerable effort to ensure the AFL ratified the endorsement deals for the construction company, which also involved work placements.
The question at the heart of the investigation is whether the club actively sought the money for the trio and whether it informed the AFL it had done so, given clubs are not allowed to establish third-party deals for players under the AFL's total player payment rules.
It is not known whether the board was made aware of the Crows' written agreement to trade Tippett to the club of his choice at the end of his contract this year, or a verbal ''gentleman's agreement''.
Trigg has insisted he called Blucher weeks after Reid put the offer to Tippett in writing, along with a list of suggested third parties to contact for payments totalling $200,000 over two years, to void the agreement.
The club sent an airbrushed version of the same letter to Tippett's manager, Peter Blucher, earlier this year, removing references to the third parties as well as a recommendation that the AFL not be informed.
Dangerfield's manager, Paul Connors, told Fairfax Media he considered the deal with the construction company to be fully approved and entirely above board.
There is some confusion among clubs and player managers about the technicalities of what constitutes an independent third party deal, as opposed to an employment agreement with a company.
''Patrick had a 12-month arrangement with Alan Sheppard. This was approved by the AFL. Patrick has had a relationship with Allan since he was 18 years of age and Alan continues to be a friend and mentor,'' Connors said. ''The deal came about from Patrick's relationship with Alan. As far as we're concerned it's completely by the book.''