Essendon say senior coach James Hird has agreed he won’t have any involvement preparing the team or on match days for the rest of the AFL season.
Hird, whose 12-month ban for his role in Essendon’s use of supplements in 2012 is due to expire next month, said on Friday in a club statement that he didn’t want to be a distraction.
There’s no doubt he would have been one by creating a huge sideshow through his mere presence.
AFL coaching great Leigh Matthews is wondering how this situation could have been allowed to drag on.
Matthews says it’s ridiculous.
“Hirdy should have come to that conclusion himself,” Matthews told Radio 3AW.
“You don’t need the club to be telling you that. It is so obvious.”
Hird returned to Australia from a study tour of France earlier this week, with uncertainty surrounding his role at the club.
Essendon chairman Paul Little met this week with Hird, general manager of football performance Neil Craig, new chief executive Xavier Campbell and interim coach Mark Thompson.
The meeting was called to discuss what was in the best interests of the club, Little said.
“We have all agreed that when James is eligible to return to the club on 25 August, James’ focus will be entirely on the 2015 season,” Little said in a statement.
“He will not be in the coaching box or have an active coaching role at training.
“In that time period between 25 August until our final game of the season, James will take the opportunity to begin planning the upcoming pre-season, list management, recruiting and preparation for 2015 away from the club.
“Due to the considerable interest in this matter, we think it is important to clarify this today so that everyone understands how the club is approaching the next couple of months and there is no room for confusion or speculation.”
Club great Tim Watson has led calls in the past week for Hird to stay out of the spotlight in August and September.
Thompson, a two-time premiership coach at Geelong before becoming Hird’s assistant coach, has been appointed on a one-year deal before Hird takes charge for the 2015 season.
The Bombers have a 10-7 record this season under Thompson and are strong contenders for a top-eight finish.
“As much as I would dearly love to have jumped straight back into working with the team, I am determined that whatever role I play should in no way act as a distraction from the 2014 campaign,” Hird said.
Hird had said on July 23 he definitely wanted to return to the club during the 2014 season.
A Federal Court trial between Essendon and Hird against ASADA, launched after the anti-doping body issued show-cause notices to 34 current and former players, is scheduled to begin in August.
Campbell’s appointment was announced on Friday.
The 34-year-old former SANFL player previously held the position of Essendon’s chief operating officer.