Challenge to Richmond Tigers AFL boardroom

A rebel group calling for a spill of the board at Richmond has pledged to retain coach Damien Hardwick, chief executive Brendon Gale and football boss Dan Richardson in their current posts.

The group, headed by cardiologist Martin Hiscock and also including former premiership players Bruce Monteath and Bryan Wood, has identified ex-Tigers star Neil Balme as the preferred choice for a new position as CEO of football at the club.

But Hiscock admitted he had yet to make contact with Balme, who would be in demand by a number of clubs should he decide to move on as Collingwood’s director of football.

Hiscock said he had tried without success to contact any of Gale, Tigers president Peggy O’Neal or members of the AFL executive before launching the “Focus on Footy” ticket on Monday at the iconic Leo Berry’s boxing gym in the heart of Richmond.

The group called for the current board to stand down, while vowing to bring on an extraordinary general meeting if that request was denied.

O’Neal was due to address the media at 4pm (AEST) on Monday,

After reaching the finals for three straight years from 2013-15, Richmond endured a desperately disappointing 2016 campaign, winning just eight games and losing 14 – the last of which was a 113-point capitulation at the hands of Sydney.

“The Richmond football club is in crisis,” said Hiscock.

“Never has a year promised so much and delivered so little.

“And it was less about the losses themselves than the manner in which they occurred, culminating in an average losing margin of seven goals.

“While the board has seen fit to fire numerous staff members it remains self-satisfied and continues to endorse its own performance.

“Success or failure starts at the top and the time has surely come now for this board to be truly accountable.

“Therefore we are asking the Richmond football club board to stand down forthwith.

“Let’s make this a seamless transition, let’s do it with dignity and let’s avoid an EGM.”

If elected, Hiscock said the group would honour the remaining two years on Hardwick’s contract.

He also pledged not trade any of the Tigers’ five established stars – captain Trent Cotchin, Alex Rance, Brett Deledio, Dustin Martin and Jack Riewoldt.

Hiscock said that the new CEO of football – be that Balme or someone else – would work closely with Richardson “to improve all facets of the football department including recruiting, player development and welfare and fitness and strength and conditioning”.

The seven-person ticket also includes 1980 premiership captain Monteath, triple flag-winner Wood, former club doctor David Marsh, Margaret Kearney, Philip Allison and Ingrid Williams.

Two remaining vacancies would be filled by serving Richmond directors, preferably those who were among the more recent appointees.

Hiscock lauded the current administration’s efforts to eliminate club debt and attract a record 72,000 members, while claiming they had come up woefully short in on-field matters.

“Success should be defined as top-four finishes and premierships,” he said.

Tigers club legend Kevin Bartlett said he wasn’t surprised by the board challenge.

“When the club falls away as it did at the end of the season, and falling well below expectations, fans don’t like to see their side not putting in, being non-competitive, looking disinterested and appearing not to care,” he told SEN.

“That sort of attitude and perception agitates people, and today is an example of that.”

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