Battling Bombers launch wholesale club review

Essendon president Paul Brasher says the embattled club’s entire football department will undergo an extensive review after a disastrous start to the season.

Brasher spoke to Essendon members in a video message on Monday evening, saying the team was “never as good as we thought we were” after a surprise finals appearance last year.

With the Bombers sitting in 16th position with an unenviable 2-9 record heading into a bye in round 12, Brasher said football director, Sean Wellman, as well as Kevin Sheedy and Simon Madden would conduct the review.

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“We are currently examining every aspect of our football program,” he said.

“The actions that come out of this review are likely to be incremental in terms of additional resources, rather than transformational.

“We don’t want honorable losses. We’re happy about effort, but that is the baseline and we’re looking to improve upon that and we’re not going to take to light about losing to good sides by a narrow margin. “

Brasher indicated that under-fire senior coach Ben Rutten would potentially receive some assistance following the review.

“Where do we need additional coaching resources? Are there particular skills or areas we need to invest more in? We are looking at that. Support for the coaches, including support for Ben and the other coaches,” he said.

“The recruiting and list management area is one that is going to be taking on a lot more importance this year because of the opportunities that we have.

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“This year we’re likely to have reasonably high draft picks, room in our salary cap, and the ability to go into a period of trade, free agency and drafting with a real head of steam.”

Brasher also apologized for the club’s failure to announce CEO Xavier Campbell’s controversial extension earlier this year, but defended the decision itself.

“The board unanimously agreed to extend Xavier’s contract because we believe that he is the best person to provide the stability we need, and to lead us through this next stage of our five-year strategic plan, including football success,” he said.

“The CEO role has got many facets, clearly football success is what is the number one priority for everybody at this club. But it’s not just success in the immediate term, it’s longer-term, sustained success and that is only one of the many elements of the CEO’s role.

“If clubs changed their CEO whenever they were going through a particularly disappointing period of weeks or even months within a season, you would see a very high turnover of CEOs in league ranks.

“You look at two of the most successful clubs we’ve seen in recent years, Richmond and Melbourne, I’m sure at different times people looked at the CEO role there, but those clubs stayed strong, they stuck with them, and the result was that the clubs came out stronger and the CEOs came out stronger for the experience.”

Brasher revealed that he’d conducted his own review before the club had decided to hand Campbell an extension.

“I conducted a process which involved talking to a range of people both internally and externally, looking at the balanced scorecard of performance against a whole range of objectives which come under the CEO’s purview,” he said.

“He’s got our full support. He’s surrounded by some very, very good people in the football program, Ben (Rutten), (GM of football) Josh (Mahoney), and we believe that combination is going to give us the best possible chance of sustained success.”

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