Tough decisions and significant changes will be made at AFL club Richmond without a board spill, according to Tigers president Peggy O’Neal.
Speaking at a hastily convened press conference at Punt Road on Monday afternoon, O’Neal was strident in her defence of the current board’s record that has delivered off-field strength without onfield success.
A rival group, led by cardiologist Dr Martin Hiscock, earlier launched an audacious boardroom challenge, citing that lack of onfield success as their primary motivation.
O’Neal said her board would not be afraid to act on the findings of a review into the club’s dismal 2016 season when it is completed by accounting firm Ernst & Young.
“Naturally what we all crave is onfield success … from the board down we are bitterly disappointed with what unfolded in 2016 – our performances did not match expectations,” O’Neal said.
“Our members and fans are angry with what we delivered on the field – they have every right to be and we hear them.
“The club has undertaken a thorough review of our football operations and changes will be made as a result.
“This will require some hard decisions – neither myself, the board, or our CEO Brendon Gale will shy away from making those tough calls.”
O’Neal counted the club’s debt-free status, record membership and a stand-alone VFL side among her board’s achievements and added a flood of support had been received in the wake of Monday’s board challenge.
Gale’s job, along with that of senior coach Damien Hardwick and football chief Dan Richardson, were guaranteed by the rival group if their challenge should be successful.
Asked if he could continue under a new board headed by Hiscock, Gale said he served the Richmond Football Club.
He illustrated his dedication to the Tigers by revealing he had fended off approaches from the Melbourne Cricket Club to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of long-serving chief executive Stephen Gough.
“I was approached a fair while ago and that’s not the job for me … my job is the Richmond Football Club,” Gale said.
“This is my passion and I’m absolutely hell bent on delivering on our vision of a strong and bold premiership club and that won’t change.”