Hawthorn football club has confirmed the AFL’s first female CEO Tracey Gaudry will be leaving the club, after only five months in the job.
In a statement, President Richard Garvey thanked Gaudry for her contribution.
“Unfortunately, Tracey has faced extenuating family and personal circumstances this year which have made it difficult to continue in the role”, said Garvey.
“I want to thank Tracey for her considerable contribution to our club in the relatively short time she has been our CEO. We understand and respect her decision to stand down.”
“Tracey has been incredibly selfless and professional throughout this process and the club wishes her and her family all the best in their future endeavours.”
Hawthorn Director Peter Nankivell has been appointed the club’s interim CEO. Nankivell, a commercial lawyer and consultant, has served on the Hawthorn Board since 2014.
According to Fairfax Media, the 48-year-old was relieved of her duties after struggling to build relationships with key Hawthorn figures.
Hawthorn premiership player Campbell Brown denied that Gaudry leaving would hurt the club’s image.
“I don’t think it is, if she’s not the right fit,” he told The New Daily. “Move on and get someone else.”
Hawthorn has lost a string of leaders in the past 18 months, with Andrew Newbold (former President), Stuart Fox (former CEO) and Chris Fagan (former football manager) all leaving the club.
Gaudry’s reported departure is a further blow to Hawthorn’s stability, something Brown said was “extremely important to footy clubs”.
But he said that Hawthorn’s success – winning four premierships from 2008 to 2015 – was a key factor in the departures.
“When you have been a league leader for a decade, naturally other teams and organisations are going to try and poach coaches and administrators,” he said.
“Hawthorn have never stood in the way of any of their staff going to further their careers.”
Sports journalist Stephen Quartermain laid blame with the president and the board for Gaudry’s exit.
So the @HawthornFC appoints a CEO with no footy experience and then sacks her.
The buck stops with the president and the board.
— Stephen Quartermain (@Quartermain10) October 2, 2017
Football journalist Damian Barrett said they were some “seriously disgruntled, powerful Hawthorn people” following the news.
“I’m not suggesting a coup, but there’s enough concern from Hawthorn-connected people about where it’s going,” he told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Monday.
“There are some seriously disgruntled, powerful, Hawthorn people taking a close look at this club at the moment.”
He also reported that board member Bruce Stevenson had retired after becoming “disgruntled” with the club.
After announcing the appointment of the first permanent female CEO in AFL, Hawthorn President Richard Garvey said he was “delighted” with the decision.
“Tracey has impressed along every step of the way,” he said in a statement in May.
“We are excited to have a CEO who comes from outside of the football world, someone with a different perspective who can drive innovation and change.”
Gaudry was ranked No.3 in the world at the height of her cycling career.
She was previously the General Manager of Commercial and Growth at Athletics Australia, Vice President of the international body for cycling at Union Cyclists Internationale (UCI), and was a contributor to the International Olympic Committee on gender inclusion.
She had also been CEO at cyclist group, the Amy Gillett Foundation.
The New Daily has contacted Ms Gaudry and the AFL for comment.