Blues dig deep as Mick suits up
Mick Malthouse. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
CARLTON'S board will sign off on a three-year maximum $3 million contract offer to Mick Malthouse, with the 59-year-old three-time premiership coach to be approached by the Blues as early as today.
With an emotional Carlton president Stephen Kernahan confirming yesterday that Malthouse's availability was a key factor in the sacking of his premiership teammate, he also admitted he was unsure whether he would survive at the helm of the club, with his board paying out a third sacked coach in succession.
The Blues are understood to have internally formalised Ratten's exit package before they sacked him two days ago. Ratten, who declared again yesterday that he was ''a career coach'' and would investigate the Port Adelaide job, will receive more than $500,000 from Carlton regardless of his next position.
The 41-year-old is believed to have received several unofficial offers from other AFL clubs yesterday, with Port Adelaide chief Keith Thomas confirming to The Age the club's interest in interviewing Ratten. Thomas is understood to have been in contact yesterday with Carlton chief executive Greg Swann.
Kernahan has revealed his old friend and teammate Mark Maclure had diplomatically suggested over a game of golf in the middle of the season that he stand down as president. Taking responsibility for the Ratten contract extension and sacking, Kernahan said he wanted to remain at the helm until 2014, when he would stand down.
''It's a tough call, it's a harsh call, it's an each-way call,'' Kernahan said of Ratten's sacking yesterday. ''If that comes back on me, I totally accept that.''
He added that the decision to sack Wayne Brittain had been driven by former president John Elliott and his henchman Wes Lofts, while Denis Pagan's termination had been the call of his predecessor, Richard Pratt.
While the Blues face scrutiny from its former director and pokies benefactor Bruce Mathieson and with long-time powerbroker Lofts also agitating from the sidelines, Maclure is believed to have thrown up Harold Mitchell's name as a candidate. Mitchell, the former advertising giant and chairman of the Melbourne Rebels, said last night he had been approached but would not take the job.
Both Kernahan and Swann have come under increased scrutiny over the Blues' lack of success this year and some off-field worries, including relatively disappointing membership numbers. Swann was told by directors to lift his performance and is understood to have done so in the eyes of the board.
Kernahan said yesterday that Swann had performed admirably in recent months and that it was crucial he stayed on board now to potentially steer Malthouse through his appointment and tenure at a fourth AFL club. The view of the Carlton hierarchy is that should the Malthouse deal run smoothly, it should be completed within a fortnight. The Malthouse appointment would secure both Blues bosses for at least two years, with Kernahan forced to step down at the end of 2014 under the club's revised constitution.
Blues board members told The Age yesterday that it was ludicrous to suggest it would pay Malthouse a reported annual wage of $1.25 million. The coach-in-waiting declared on Monday that a return to coaching would come in 2013 or not at all. He told 3AW yesterday he remained undecided about a return to coaching and that his wife Nanette had been traumatised and tearful at adverse stories about his role in Ratten's sacking.
No coach in the AFL currently earns $1 million a season, although several coaches, notably the recently recontracted 2008 premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, would receive that much with bonuses should the Hawks win a flag. Senior Essendon assistant Mark Thompson, on a reported wage of close to $800,000, earns significantly more money than most other coaches in the AFL.
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