James Hird’s future at Essendon could be on thin ice after the latest round of his battle with the AFL.
The suspended coach will have to answer to the club next week after his wife Tania gave an inflammatory TV interview.
Asked if this latest development had opened the door to Essendon reviewing their contract with Hird, chairman Paul Little made his displeasure clear.
“I’m not sure about a door being opened, but there are certain expectations on any senior coach that we have in relation to what we expect from them and what we expect from the people who surround them,” Little told Channel Seven on Friday night.
“If we’re not getting what we expect, then clearly that’s something that needs to be dealt with.”
Hird is serving a 12-month AFL suspension for his role in the club’s supplements scandal and is overseas on a study trip.
At this stage, he is contracted to coach the Bombers again in 2015 and ’16.
Tania Hird gave an interview with the ABC that was aired on Thursday night, a day before Essendon’s round-one game against North Melbourne.
She repeated the allegation that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou had tipped off Essendon about the supplements investigation, which he denies.
She also accused the AFL of making her husband a scapegoat.
But the timing of the interview as much as its content was terrible for Essendon, given Friday night was Dustin Fletcher’s club-record 379th game.
The Bombers have also been desperate to put last year’s turmoil behind them.
If we’re not getting what we expect, then clearly that’s something that needs to be dealt with.
While they remain under ASADA investigation, they have tried to shift focus to this season at every opportunity.
“The events of the last 24-48 hours have made it even more difficult for me and the board,” Little said.
“There are so many positive things happening in Essendon … this was the last thing we needed.”
Referring to Friday night’s game, Little added: “It’s just a shame the gloss had to be taken off that with this distraction.”
Little said the club had heard a rumour about the interview, but had been unable to substantiate it.
He added no-one from the club had been able to contact Tania Hird since Thursday night.
The Bombers boss added that Hird was ultimately responsible for the actions of his circle of advisors.
“There is no question that James is the one responsible for what is happening – we’ll talk to him about that,” Little said.
He also made it clear that their relationship with the Hird camp was suffering.
“The relationship has been on better footing, but … we’re not jumping to any conclusions,” he said.
“It’s just made the whole job of remaining focused on the future more difficult.”
What we have to do with James now is understand the facts, understand what really happened, what was really said, and deal with it accordingly.
The Essendon board met on Friday morning via a phone hook-up to discuss the Tania Hird interview.
“I’m not sure you can control future interviews,” Little said.
“What we have to do with James now is understand the facts, understand what really happened, what was really said, and deal with it accordingly.
“But that’s not something that happened today.”
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire also predicted on Friday that Hird would not coach Essendon again, despite the Bombers club great saying earlier this week he was counting down the days until he returned.
Mark Thompson is interim head coach, with Hird’s suspension ending in late August.