Essendon chairman Paul Little has praised AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou – something that seemed unthinkable last August.
Speaking at the club’s season launch, Little said Demetriou had turned the corner and had been a big help to the Bombers lately.
Little was commenting after Demetriou’s announcement earlier on Monday that he would soon resign.
Demetriou and his No.2 Gill McLachlan paid a much-publicised visit to Essendon’s new headquarters last month and Little gave them a guided tour.
The thawed relations between AFL headquarters and the club are far removed from late last season, when Little and coach James Hird threatened court action over the AFL investigation into the club’s supplements program.
Essendon eventually accepted a raft of punishments, including their exclusion from the finals and a 12-month suspension for Hird.
“I just have to say it’s been a difficult relationship we – the club, myself and the board – have had with Andrew,” Little said.
“But in many ways, he has turned the corner and I do need to say this.
“About six months ago, we met and I needed to have his support to rebuild the Essendon footy club.
“In fairness to Andrew, he has given us that support ever since.”
There was some nervous laughter in the room when Little brought up Demetriou.
Many Essendon fans remain furious at how the club and Hird were treated by the AFL.
“I know there will be some cynicism in the room tonight, but I have to tell you that more recently, Andrew has been a big help,” Little said.
The Bombers remain under ASADA investigation, with no clear indication of when the anti-doping authority will decide to issue infraction notices.