Former footballer and Nine News Adelaide sports presenter Warren Tredrea has lost his unfair dismissal court case against his former employer.

Tredrea sued Channel 9 South Australia, claiming the network unfairly terminated his contract in January 2022 because he refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The former Port Adelaide captain and premiership player was seeking almost $6 million in lost wages.

The Federal Court dismissed Tredrea’s case and awarded costs to Channel 9.

The court accepted Nine’s counter-argument that Tredrea’s contract was not going to be renewed in November 2022 because of his performance in the job.

Justice Geoffrey Kennett found that while there may have been a case had Tredrea been terminated solely on the grounds of a breach of COVID policy, the dismissal was supported on other grounds.

Justice Kennett also reflected on Nine’s concerns over reputational damage caused by comments Tredrea made on Adelaide radio station 5AA.

“Mr Tredrea was a controversial figure who was discussed in other media outlets in a manner that was unwelcome to Channel 9,” he wrote.

“Rather than having the studied neutrality of a newsreader, he was associated in public discourse with an unpopular viewpoint on an issue apt to excite strong emotions.

“It did not help that the viewpoint with which he was associated was diametrically opposed to the public position of Channel 9 itself.”

Speaking outside his lawyer’s chambers following the decision, Tredrea hinted he might appeal.

“Obviously, it’s not what we were hoping for at this stage of the proceedings, it’s disappointing,” he said.

“We’ll have to speak with my legal team to work out where we go from here, whether we consider an appeal.

Warren Tredrea outside federal court after losing his unfair dismissal case against Channel 9.(Daniel Litjens)

Tredrea acknowledged the financial impact of the proceedings.

“It’s been a significant outlay to take this on, but yeah, we’re very adamant that we’ve gone the right course and wouldn’t have gone this far if we didn’t,” he said.

“I want to thank all the people who have supported me, people who have stopped in the street, people who contact you on social media. It’s been a challenging period, a difficult one, we didn’t get the rub of the green today, but … might not be over.”

A Nine spokesperson said, “we thank the court for considering the matters and on this decision today.”

Court action launched in 2022

Tredrea launched legal action in September 2022, and claimed that he should be paid out the remainder of his 2022 salary — $176,458.32. 

He also sought compensation for the loss of opportunity to renew his contract for up to 30 years, which equated to $5.775 million.

During the case, the court heard the network had “concerns” about Tredrea’s on-air delivery and stumble rate, and was worried it could damage its reputation or business interests.

Channel Nine’s Adelaide news director Jeremy Pudney told the court there were three grounds for Tredrea’s dismissal, which included his failure to comply with Channel Nine’s condition of entry by refusing the COVID-19 vaccination, his performance as a sports presenter, and the impacts to the network’s and Tredrea’s reputation following “inaccurate” comments made on a local radio station about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Nine Network’s Adelaide news director Jeremy Pudney attended Federal Court.(ABC news)

Mr Pudney told the court he had concerns about Tredrea providing his opinion on COVID as well as his factual understanding of the COVID vaccine.

Mr Pudney said he was “alarmed” about the comments made on radio, and he held a meeting with Tredrea and his manager.

“I remember saying quite seriously to Tredrea that it’s not constructive to talk about such a hot button issue … with factual errors,” he said.

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