PRESIDENT Don McLardy has taken a swipe at former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, who said earlier in the week that he had been approached to take over as Melbourne president and was considering challenging for the position.
McLardy said at his president’s speech before Melbourne’s Queen’s Birthday clash against Collingwood at the MCG on Monday that “one can only wonder what motivates a supporter of one AFL team to put themselves up as a potential president of a rival AFL team”.
“My preference would be to give no more oxygen to Jeff’s comments, but I want to make it very clear to everyone that the Melbourne Football Club has no interest in a man who once said ‘my heart bleeds gold and brown’,” he said.
“Nor are we interested in someone who has suggested the Melbourne Football Club should merge with another club or move to the Gold Coast.
“Nor are we interested in someone whose judgement saw them call for premiership coach Alastair Clarkson's sacking after round one this year after the Geelong loss. Needless to say Hawthorn haven't lost a game since.
“Jeff, there was a very good reason the Victorian people threw you out of office despite your record, and from your performance last week, it would seem you are the only one who still doesn't know what that reason was.”
Earlier in his speech McLardy said, “During the assessment period, the club via John will welcome the input of any passionate Demon supporters who believe they may have the attributes to help take the club forward. Indeed, we have already had several discussions with interested and committed members who have something to offer. The board must be rejuvenated, but without jeopardising the key relationships and strategic partnerships that have been built.”
McLardy said the Melbourne board took “full responsibility for where we are” and understood why it needed to be “analysed and questioned on their success or failure”, but he backed his directors on an individual level.
“In my view, my fellow directors cannot be questioned on their personal and financial commitment to our club ... [they] all are highly talented Demon fanatics,” he said.
“It would be a mistake for our club to not recognise that these directors can and will make a positive impact on the future of the club, whether on the board or not.”
McLardy suggested the club needed to be careful with how it went about change.
“I got an email this week from passionate Demon and former board member Mick Coglin, who reminded me if the club is going to change, it needs to do so with dignity and unity,” he said.
“Those faceless supposed ‘influential supporters’ behind Jeff Kennett should remember that and have the courage now to talk to me or John Trotter about the club’s future.
“We all agree on the need for change, but the extent of that change needs to be managed with the club’s best interests at heart, and not that of individuals.”
McLardy was also disappointed in Melbourne great David Schwarz’s comments during the week. Schwarz said he hoped Melbourne would lose against Collingwood, so the club could take immediate action on coach Mark Neeld’s position.
“With regard to the comments made by David Schwarz – Schwarta, you are a Demon great, but I have to question the sense of some of your comments last week, albeit coming from the heart. I find it incredible you can state you hope we get thrashed today,” he said.
McLardy said the club’s “change process is in its early stages, but members should know there is a there is a clear path forward for the club”.
In summarising, McLardy said these key points are now under way:
- Under John Trotter, the board assessment and subsequent recommendations and actions for rejuvenation will be completed within weeks
- In Peter Jackson, the club has locked in a “first class CEO” who will continue to analyse critical areas of the club and restructure to industry best practice
- The club is in regular contact with the AFL, and this week we will meet with the AFL Commission to outline its plans for the future and seek their continued support
- The football department will continue to be the number one priority for the club’s efforts, improvement and subsequent success on the field. It is the main drive for the club.