Essendon will start the new season without a new football operations boss, but the club says it is in no rush to fill the crucial position.
The Bombers are some way off finding a redefined general manager of football following the exit of Danny Corcoran despite having approached and interviewed several candidates, with the club looking to complete its significant off-field restructure.
The club is still speaking with some potential candidates working at sporting organisations overseas, and would rather wait to find someone with enough seniority, experience and authority to lead its football department than rush to fill the role.
The new GM of football will become the boss of coach Mark Thompson and suspended coach James Hird, upon his return in August.
Essendon approached Geoff Walsh last year, before he returned to North Melbourne to head up its football department, and more recently spoke with Fremantle’s list manager Brad Lloyd about applying for the position. Lloyd will remain with the Dockers, where he recently signed a new contract.
”It’s taking a long time to fill the role, but it was always going to take a long time because this is a really important role. We want to talk to a lot of people, we want to find the right person and we’re prepared for it to take a decent amount of time,” said Essendon’s chief operating officer, Xavier Campbell.
”It’s a particularly important role for us, the sort of strong leadership we’re looking for is unique and we’ve been looking well outside AFL circles as well.
”It’s a crucial role for us, it’s a tough role, a very senior role, and we need to get it right.”
The Bombers’ football department is currently being run by football operations manager Steve Alessio, with the Bombers also drawing on Neil Craig’s experience at Adelaide and Melbourne. Craig joined the club as head of coaching and development strategy when Thompson was appointed interim coach at the end of Essendon’s tumultuous 2013 season.
The club is closer to appointing its first integrity and compliance manager – it has drawn up a shortlist of 10 people – and has advertised for a new general manager of people and culture to head up its human resources department.
The integrity officer will work across the club but most particularly in the football department, to avoid the sort of oversights that led to the AFL and ASADA’s investigation of its supplements program in 2012. The club has received applications from people with backgrounds in law, law enforcement and auditing/compliance roles and expects to fill the position soon.