‘Shocked’ Clarkson speaks out, North tenure delayed

Alastair Clarkson has refuted “any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct” in the wake of an explosive report into his time at Hawthorn.

Clarkson’s start date at North Melbourne has been pushed back as a result of “serious historical allegations” detailed in the ABC report.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Clarkson said he was “shocked” by the allegations in the story.

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“The health, care and welfare of our players, staff and their families were always my highest priorities during my time at the Hawthorn Football Club,” Clarkson said.

“I was therefore shocked by the extremely serious allegations reported in the media earlier today. I was not interviewed by the authors of the report commissioned by the club, and nor have I been provided with a copy of the report.

“I was not afforded any due process and I refute any allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct and look forward to the opportunity to be heard as part of the AFL external investigation.

“I have today contacted the president of North Melbourne Football Club and we have mutually agreed that I will step back from my responsibilities at the club so I can fully cooperate in the investigation.

“As the matters are now subject to an investigation, I will not make any further comment at this stage.”

Clarkson was one of three former Hawks staffers named in an explosive report on Wednesday, along with Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan, who was an assistant under Clarkson, and ex-Hawks player development manager, Jason Burt.

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The 54-year-old was set to officially start his tenure at North Melbourne on November 1, but will now start at a later date due to the ongoing investigation.

“The North Melbourne Football Club is aware of serious historical allegations made against individuals who worked at the Hawthorn Football Club, including incoming North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson,” a club statement read on Wednesday.

“The matters raised are now with the AFL’s Integrity Unit and Alastair welcomes the opportunity to co-operate with any investigation relating to the claims.

“Alastair was due to commence work with North Melbourne on November 1 however he will delay the start of his tenure to allow time to fully participate in the investigation.

“Given the matters raised are confidential and the investigation is ongoing, the club will not provide any further comment at this time.”

Clarkson was head-hunted by North Melbourne, Essendon and the GWS Giants in recent months and signed a five-year deal to coach the Kangaroos last month.

He departed Hawthorn with a year to run on his deal at the end of the 2021 season after a successful tenure which featured four premierships.

News of Clarkson’s delayed start comes after the Lions announced Fagan would take a leave of absence to partake in the investigation.

Fagan was an assistant under Clarkson between 2008 and 2013 before being promoted into a general manager of football role which he held until he left the club for Brisbane at the end of 2016.

He was widely expected to receive a contract extension from the Lions after a successful finals campaign which ended in last weekend’s preliminary final.

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