Brisbane’s declining performance under Justin Leppitsch left the Lions with little choice but to sack him as coach, chairman Bob Sharpless says.
Leppitsch was ousted with one year still remaining on his contract, having won just 14 matches in three seasons at the helm.
The Lions made the decision at a board meeting on Monday morning, with Sharpless conceding they are “simply not a competitive football team”.
“We have regressed from 10 wins in 2013, to seven wins in 2014, four wins last season, and to three this year,” Sharpless said.
“The nature of some of this season’s heavy defeats to teams around the same position on the AFL ladder have been bitterly disappointing.
“There’s something not right, and our view was we needed to do something about it.”
Leppitsch chose not to join Sharpless and chief executive Greg Swann at Monday’s media conference and was informed of his axing by telephone.
The playing group was told via email and were apparently unable to be gathered together because they were due for end-of-season reviews with their line coaches.
In his final appearance before the media as coach following Sunday’s defeat to St Kilda, Leppitsch had complained club powerbrokers had shifted the goalposts on what he needed to do.
Sharpless rejected that view, describing the team’s basic skills as a “bit deficient” and admitting some players wanted Leppitsch removed.
“We extended his contact at the start of this year because we had the belief we were heading in the right direction, but this season just has not turned out the way we expected,” he said.
Swann said the board had yet to determine whether Leppitsch’s replacement needed to have had previous experience as an AFL head coach, or if there was a preference for someone not associated with the club.
“Ultimately we’ll just get the best coach there is,” he said.
Swann also said the decision would be Brisbane’s alone and not influenced by the AFL.
The Lions ended the 2016 home-and-away season in second-last spot on the ladder with three victories, avoiding the wooden spoon by just half a percentage point.