Scott Watters will be 'angry' and 'embarrassed'
The three-club AFL player is sacked as St Kilda coach and Fairfax sports writer Michael Gleeson says the news will have blindsided him.
St Kilda believed it was set to lose more than 10 staff if it had kept Scott Watters on as coach when it made the startling decision to sack him on Friday.
The decision was attacked by former Hawthorn champion Dermott Brereton, who in a radio interview was brutal in his criticism of Saints football chief Chris Pelchen, who had previously been at Hawthorn.
St Kilda has drafted a shortlist of potential candidates to take over as coach, including former Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams, highly regarded Port assistant Alan Richardson, Saints assistant Adam Kingsley and former club great Robert Harvey, who has worked as an assistant at Carlton and is the senior assistant at Collingwood.
A panel will be established to choose the coach. It will comprise St Kilda football director Andrew Thompson, Pelchen and most likely a recently retired player, such as Jason Blake, and someone of coaching experience.
The decision on a new coach will be made within weeks, probably ahead of the national draft, according to club president Peter Summers.
A board meeting at 8am on Friday decided not to postpone what it considered the inevitable and voted to terminate Watters' contract immediately, two years into his three-year term.
Coincidentally, the decision came on the first day of the football financial year, meaning the $400,000 payout will be included in this year's figures, not last year's.
Summers described the decision to sack Watters as a "strong" decision, but would give no further explanation of the reasons.
"The decision of the board today was not an easy decision and the result of a significant and considered process," he said.
Last month, the board, in considering the football element of a club review, had voted to sack Watters, but then elected not to.
When Thompson handed down the review of the football department, the club agreed it had the right people in place in the right structure.
Summers said that was accurate at the time, but the change between then and Friday, when the board chose to sack Watters, was about how Watters had responded - or, implicitly, had failed to respond - to the changes that were implemented as a result of recommendations in the review.
There had been friction with key figures and complaints on Watters' behaviour with other staff. ''The issue around some of the personality issues, we addressed those in the review. Were they a strong factor in this morning's decision? No,'' Summers said.
He would say only there was no single reason for the sacking, but that the detail of the number of issues that had prompted the decision, as well as the issue of a payout, would remain private.
The Saints' move came only hours after Watters rang Melbourne radio station SEN to correct what he considered were ''laughably inaccurate" reports about friction at the club and that his future at the club was grim. He said Summers and others at the club had sat before him and spoken of him as the long-term coach of the club who would soon be reappointed.
"When the president sits with you and says he sees you as a long-term coach, that's enough for me," Watters said on SEN. Hours later, he was sacked.
Summers did not deny having that conversation with Watters, saying only that he would encourage every staff member of the club to have a long and successful career at the club.
■Jeremy Laider switched from Carlton to Sydney and Daniel Cross from Western Bulldogs to Melbourne as delisted free agents on Friday.