Richmond have called Focus on Footy’s bluff.
President Peggy O’Neal and her board have rejected a compromise proposal put to them on Tuesday morning at a meeting with the rebel group.
The group, led by Dr Martin Hiscock, had backed away from calling for a board spill at the meeting, instead hoping to gain four to five seats without an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) at the club.
But having convened a board meeting to discuss the proposal that afternoon, the Tigers’ response was emphatic.
“The Richmond Football Club board rejected this request in its entirety,” a club statement read.
“Our members are perfectly entitled to run for the board and we have processes in place to allow them to do just that,” O’Neal continued.
“We encourage any of our 70,000 members wishing to do so to engage in our nominations process or through our normal electoral process as part of the annual general meeting.
“The time leading up to the AFL draft is really important for all clubs and our priority right now is running this club, and providing a stable environment that allows our CEO Brendon Gale and our new general manager of football Neil Balme to build a stronger Richmond on and off the field.
“The board and our administration – under the guidance of Brendon – is getting on with the really important business of attracting players, coaches and commercial partners to our club, and planning for 2017.
“I’m sure all passionate Richmond members and supporters want Brendon and Neil focused on delivering the changes we have announced to strengthen our football department and not be distracted by other issues.”
The Tigers then appeared to slam the door shut on the rebel group, saying no further comment on the issue would be made.
The club took the wind out of the group’s sails on September 12 when they announced Balme would be their new football director.
It is understood only 100 member signatures are needed to force an EGM – something the two parties want to avoid – but the ball is squarely back in the rebel group’s court now.
“Today we offered an olive branch, not a concession, in the best interests of long-suffering Richmond members and fans,” Dr Hiscock said before Richmond released their response to the meeting.
“We have to do something.
“We don’t want to wake up in 15 years’ time and say we should have done something before it became half a century since our last premiership.”
Dr Hiscock said his group did not want to depose O’Neal.
Focus On Footy’s Mag Kearney, who was in the meeting with the club, said the group would provide the funds to pay out coach Damien Hardwick if new performance guidelines were not met next season.
Hardwick is contracted until the end of 2018.