The future of suspended Essendon coach James Hird is under a new cloud following explosive allegations by his wife over how the AFL handled the supplements scandal.
Chairman Paul Little said the Bombers board would now meet to discuss its next move regarding Hird, who is serving a 12-month suspension which runs until late August.
“It’s well documented now that we’ve been working incredibly hard, right across all facets of the club for the last six to nine months to turn the club around, focus on the future and move away from the dispute of last year,” Little told Triple M Radio on Friday morning.
“… it’s disappointing.
“I think the timing last night is certainly less than helpful. Up until the events of the last 24 hours we believed James was acting and responding to our requests in a positive way.
“The club will need to meet now to determine how we go forward in relation to the James Hird issue and probably the broader group which surrounds James.”
Speaking on Triple M, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire predicted 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 to the job.
“It’s more about the camp around James Hird and the advice he’s getting,” said McGuire.
“Clearly that advice is contrary to the advice that the chairman of the Essendon football club, who appointed James for two years, has been giving and the direction the club wants to go in.”
Tania Hird revived the explosive allegation that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou tipped off the club about the supplements scandal.
The outgoing AFL boss strenuously denies the claim, first raised in July last year, that Demetriou spoke to then-Bombers chairman David Evans shortly before Essendon came under ASADA and league investigation.
Tania Hird, who is a lawyer, said she was listening on a speaker phone when her husband spoke to Evans on July 25.
“I was taking notes – I take a lot of notes,” she told the ABC’s 7.30. (Watch the full interview here.)
“David admitted that he said to James ‘go into ASADA and tell the whole truth, but don’t say what Andrew Demetriou told us’.
“It has been referred to as the tip-off.
“James did say in return ‘if I’m not asked about it, I won’t offer it up, but if I’m asked about it, like anything I’m asked about, I will answer it honestly and truthfully and to the best of my knowledge’.”
Hird’s lawyer Stephen Amendola also repeated his criticisms of how the AFL ran the disciplinary process that led to the suspension.
“They looked to behave like a bunch of cashed-up bogans who thought they could do what they wanted,” Amendola said.
“(It was) just a complete failure of process and it fundamentally arises from the (AFL) commission structure. The commission is the investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. The idea that they don’t think there’s something wrong with that is frankly astounding.”
In late July last year, Evans suddenly resigned from Essendon because of health issues and a month later Hird received a 12-month suspension from the AFL.
Essendon remain under ASADA investigation.
Last July, the Herald Sun reported that Demetriou spoke to Essendon officials on February 4, the night before the Bombers announced they would come under AFL and ASADA investigation.
Demetriou denies discussing with Evans a confidential Australian Crime Commission report that the AFL had received a few days previously. The AFL boss adds no specific club was mentioned in the ACC briefing.
“We were told prior to the announcement that there was going to be an investigation into Essendon involving performance enhancing drugs or supplements,” Tania Hird said.
“We were told that at a time when we shouldn’t have been told that.”
The AFL declined to comment about Tania Hird’s claim. She added her husband only agreed to his 12-month suspension because of bullying from AFL officials.
Hird is now in France on a study trip, with Tania and their children to join him later this month. His AFL suspension ends in August.