Eden Park Trust says it "fully backs" its new chief executive, after revelations Nick Sautner left behind a troubled history at a stadium in Australia, including trading free tickets for personal gain.

The history has been revealed in Australian court documents, with the Federal Court issuing a damning ruling in 2015 against Sautner's behaviour while employed at Etihad Stadium.

The court documents state that while Sautner was at the Melbourne stadium in a senior role, he used free tickets "like currency", to get work done at his home, on his car, for a cheaper gym membership, to get into Qantas Club, and to secure Bunnings and supermarket vouchers.

The Australian court found that Sautner likely knew he wasn't supposed to use the tickets in that way, but did so regardless.


The Federal Court stated in its decision "it should not be overlooked that Mr Sautner's purpose was to treat his unlimited access to tickets as cash, that is as a supplementary form of income.

"Whatever 'for their personal use' meant in the policy, on no reading would that purpose be authorised.

"The 'perk' that staff were being given was not obtaining tickets to use as cash but obtaining tickets so that the staff member, their family, friends and acquaintances could get to attend events at the stadium."

In a statement, Eden Park Trust said the court case was "not new information", and they looked into the issue before hiring Sautner.

The court documents also reveal a serious issue with Sautner "disparaging" the Etihad Park stadium CEO, Paul Sergeant.

The judgment noted Sautner took photographs of Sergeant while he was sleeping, following a long-haul flight for a work trip.

Sautner then showed those photographs to other people, "to support his adverse comments about Mr Sergeant", the judgment said.

"No one would expect that, after an international flight, they would be at risk of a subordinate employee taking their photograph while they slept for the purpose of using the photograph to later ridicule them.


"Doing so represents a serious breach of trust."

The Australian Federal Court bench unanimously ruled against Sautner, and also reversed a lower court ruling that had given him A$150,000 in severance payment.

In their statement, Eden Park Trust said Sautner was first employed in 2016 as General Manager, Commercial, and they looked into the case at the time.

"Once Sautner began his role at Eden Park, it became clear to the Board that he was the model of propriety and had the ability to lead the team after spending 13 years working at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

"When considering appointing him to CEO, The Eden Park Trust's Board agreed on an additional full round of due diligence on Sautner.

"It was mandated that [Eden Park Trust Board chairman Doug] McKay personally contacted the referees who knew Sautner during that period of his life to understand the situation firsthand.

"These referees included some of Australia's leading businessmen, sports and stadia industry experts as well as the head of the Competition Integrity Department at the Australian Football League (AFL).

"These individuals were supportive of Sautner and believe he has been unfairly tarnished."

The Trust said the previous court action had no bearing on Sautner's role at Eden Park.

McKay said that the Board had been delighted with Sautner's work ethic and integrity.

"There hasn't been a single incident which has given me cause to doubt him and, unless he proves me wrong, Nick Sautner has our full support."

A Trust spokesperson said they would not be commenting beyond the written statement.

Sautner has not returned Herald calls for comment.