Essendon chief executive Ian Robson, president David Evans and coach James Hird when the scandal broke in 2013. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Former Essendon president David Evans and ex-AFL chief Andrew Demetriou are to blame for the long lasting pain suffered by the Essendon 34, according to James Hird’s lawyer.

James Hird’s solicitor Steven Amendola has told the Herald Sun that the drugs saga has dragged into a third season due to the AFL’s scheming and manipulation in the early days of the investigation.

“This process has unfolded because of the AFL’s botched attempt to manufacture an outcome that punished the club and its staff on the assurance that the players would be all right,” Amendola said.

“That assurance was hollow and David Evans swallowed it hook, line and sinker when it is clear he should not have been involved in any such decisions given his relationship with Andrew Demetriou.

“He was hopelessly conflicted.

“He should not have been making these decisions … and in doing so he put the club’s neck in a noose leaving it defenceless in the face of the constant deliberately damaging leaking that occurred.

“The AFL were never able to deliver on such assurances and by virtue of the way the AFL orchestrated the unfolding of the saga, ASADA pursued a prosecution of the 34 players.

“The players were not all right. They are still not all right and the saga will continue into 2016.”