Legendary Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy has been revealed as one of the major players behind the board spill that could eventually lead to Alastair Clarkson’s appointment as coach.
It took less than 24 hours after a disastrous 84-point loss to Port Adelaide for mass change to be actioned at Essendon, with president Paul Brasher replaced by former Channel 10 boss Dave Barham, who is set to commission an external review into the club.
According to The Age’s Caroline Wilson, Sheedy, who is now an Essendon director, is not a believer in incumbent coach Ben Rutten, and his shrewd board move ultimately led to the club making an 11th-hour play for Alastair Clarkson.
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Wilson said the boardroom turmoil had been building since May at the earliest when Brasher went public with the club’s intentions to begin an internal review.
The internal review caused so much angst within the club that newly minted president Barham was close to walking away from the Bombers.
“My understanding is the numbers were pretty much split last week … and it was Kevin Sheedy’s vote that swung away from Paul Brasher and the vice-president, Peter Allen,” Wilson said on Nine’s Footy Classified.
“That came to a head a few weeks ago when David Barham, I believe frustrated with the goings-on at the Essendon Football Club and the internal review, actually thought about walking away from the Essendon Football Club.
“He was convinced to remain by not only some board members, but wealthy backers.”
With Brasher out of the picture, the future of club CEO Xavier Campbell, who implemented the now-infamous coaching succession plan that put Rutten in charge in 2019, is up in the air.
Campbell once again publicly backed Rutten late on Monday evening, but Wilson believes he did so without the knowledge of “how far things had gone with the Clarkson camp”.
The trickle-down effect from Brasher’s resignation could be widespread, with the CEO, head of football and head of recruitment roles all to be examined.
Wilson revealed how the bad blood from the boardroom had seen all the way down to the players, leading to what she called a “toxic” environment.
“We’ve got (head of football) Josh Mahoney at complete odds with (head of recruitment) Adrian Dodoro. That situation has become toxic,” she said.
“The coach and Adrian Dodoro, toxic. There’s so many divisions in that footy club. It’s pretty devastating.
“The players are suggesting they’re not mad on having him (Rutten) down on the bench with them.”
While she believes North Melbourne has not yet given up hope of luring Clarkson to Arden Street, Wilson says the four-time premiership-winner will wind up at Essendon.
“He has suggested to North Melbourne that the decision is a few days away now. That’s been lengthened,” she said.
“GWS is out of the picture. They’re suggesting that Adam Yze was their first choice anyway. I think Alastair Clarkson will, and should, pick Essendon.”
Club legend Matthew Lloyd admitted he was “pleased” to see an external review had been called for by Barham, after his own repeated pleas.
President gone amid Bombers’ turmoil
“They’ve changed the odd board member, they’ve changed the head of football occasionally, they’ve changed the odd assistant coach, but at the end of the day it’s not really getting them far. It’s just making change for the sake of it,” he told Footy Classified.
“Now, I think this is big because it changes the president, now it’s pressure on whether Xavier Campbell is the right man as the CEO, head of footy, head of recruiting, the coach, everyone is being looked at.
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“Finally we’re going to get an external review, not an internal review. How can you review yourself?”
An official decision is expected on Rutten’s future as early as Tuesday morning.
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