Former Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd has challenged speculation that James Hird will be cut adrift by the club.
Essendon are refusing to guarantee suspended coach James Hird will serve out his contract until the end of the 2016 AFL season.
Hird’s 12-month ban as part of Essendon’s punishment over their use of supplements is due to expire in August 2014.
However a board meeting in the next couple of days is expected to hear debate over cutting Hird loose, despite a reported $2 million payout.
An explosive ABC-TV interview given on Thursday night by Hird’s wife Tania reignited the debate over Hird’s coaching future.
The timing of Tania Hird’s broadside about the way the AFL handled the supplements scandal was seemingly designed to cause major embarrassment to league chief Andrew Demetriou.
It came a day before Essendon’s round-one clash with North Melbourne which Essendon won.
Essendon chairman Paul Little said on Friday Tania Hird’s behaviour was unhelpful. Little said James Hird needed to control those around him.
It had been widely speculated that the board, which had been trying to foster a better relationship with the AFL, had run out of patience with the Hird camp.
But Hird’s former teammate Matthew Lloyd is confident Hird will regain the senior-coaching role in 2015 from caretaker coach Mark Thompson, who has been promoted to the top job on a one-year deal.
“My understanding is that Hird and Little have spoken and James Hird will be the coach in 2015,” Lloyd said on Radio 3AW on Saturday night.
Hird is believed to be in Singapore en route to France for a stint at an exclusive business school as part of a four-month working holiday, having already been paid his annual seven-figure salary.
“I received information yesterday that James Hird and Paul Little had spoken yesterday,” Lloyd told Nine on Sunday.
“They smoothed a lot of things out and James Hird believes that he will be the coach of Essendon moving forward.
“I wouldn’t have gone with it unless I was certain.”
Essendon’s board is expected to meet on Monday or Tuesday.
“I don’t want to comment on Matthew’s statements or anyone other statements or any press articles,” Little told reporters on Sunday.
“The appropriate forum for further discussion now is the Essendon board.
“We really now need to deal with the facts.
“The facts are that certain things have been said. We need to assess that and decide what we do next.
“So I’m not going to speculate about what may or may not happen.”
Essendon were banned from last year’s finals series in August 2013 as part of a range of penalties handed down to the Bombers over their use of supplements.
Hird’s father Allan has also defended James. Allan Hird has told Fairfax Media Demetriou is a bully.
Demetriou has refuted Tania Hird’s allegation he had alerted Essendon the club’s supplements program was under scrutiny.