Tania Hird sparks storm over James' future
Essendon board in talks over what to do next following controversial comments and allegations made by suspended coach James Hird's wife, Tania Hird.PT0M0S 620 349
UPDATE: James Hird's immediate future with Essendon appears safe after a telephone hook-up of club directors early on Friday deferred any public call on the suspended coach until after Friday night's season-opener against North Melbourne.
The club's interim coach Mark Thompson was understood to have remained in constant touch with his players during the day imploring them focus upon Dustin Fletcher's feat of breaking the club's games record, on Paddy Ryder's 150th and Jake Carlisle's 50th.
4.30 PM: Tania Hird has told reporters that she does not think she has jeopardised her husband James' position as Essendon coach.
Essendon coach James Hird and Chairman Paul Little speak to the media in 2013. Photo: Pat Scala
Speaking on Channel Nine this morning, Ms Hird remained upbeat and defiant.
"I couldn't see any reason for him to be sacked," she said.
"As I said, this is me wanting to say something, this actually has nothing to do with him."
11:10 AM: A host of major AFL personalities, including Eddie McGuire and Tony Shaw, are weighing in this morning as James Hird's future in the AFL continues to hang in the balance.
The Essendon board has scheduled a meeting to discuss the fallout from Tania Hird's interview with 7.30 in which she repeated allegations AFL chief Andrew Demetriou tipped off then-Essendon Chairman David Evans about a possible breach of ASADA regulations.
Radio stations SEN and Triple M both reported this morning that the Bombers had been forced to move on Hird- suspended for 12 months for overseeing the controversial supplements regime at the club in 2012- following his wife Tania's explosive interview last night on the ABC's 7.30 program.
In the interview, Tania Hird had accused AFL chief Andrew Demetriou of tipping off then-Essendon Chairman David Evans about a possible breach of ASADA regulations prior to the club coming under investigation.
"David admitted that he said to James 'Go into ASADA and tell the whole truth, but don't say what Andrew Demetriou told us'. It has been referred to as the tip-off," Mrs Hird said.
She also claimed that her husband had been made the "scapegoat" of the scandal.
Bombers Chairman Paul Little appeared this morning on Triple M, and could not guarantee Hird's future at the club.
"The club will have to meet now to determine how we go forward in relation to the James Hird issue," said Little.
It is believed that the Essendon board will meet today to discuss how they will proceed.
Little labelled Tania Hird's comments '"disappointing" and "less than helpful," even when given that they came a day before the Bombers begin their 2014 campaign against North Melbourne.
Demetriou himself vehemently denied the allegations being made by Mrs Hird when he spoke with Red Symons and Gerard Whateley on ABC Radio this morning.
"I don't want to go over old ground because you've got both me and David Evans deny that and the simple reason why it's untrue is because I wasn't privy to any information," said Demetriou.
"I couldn't have passed on information that I wasn't in possession of so look I saw the thing last night, I thought it was disappointing from the perspective of the Essendon Football Club, they are one day away from their first game."
"It is a distraction to the core issue which is that there was a regime occurring at this football club-systematic-of young men being injected with substances that in many cases were banned for human use, some of which are unknown, some of which could potentially have long-term health effects and it was imperative that the AFL put a stop to it for the integrity of the code."
"That is the core issue and the rest of it is noise."
Later when asked on radio station 3AW whether James Hird's position had become untenable, Demetriou stated that it was a matter for the Bombers to assess.
"That's a decision for the club, but you could hear in Paul [Little's] voice an immense amount of frustration."
Longstanding AFL Commissioner Bill Kelty bemoaned the ongoing nature of the saga, agreeing that the major issue had become clouded.
"It's not about James, it's not about me, it's not about Andrew...it was about the welfare of the players," said Kelty.
Speaking on Triple M, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire suggested that Hird was unlikely to coach the Bombers next season.
"It's more about the camp around James Hird and the advice he's getting," McGuire said.
"Clearly that advice is contrary to the advice that the chairman of the Essendon football club, who appointed James for two years, has been giving and the direction the club wants to go in."
Former Collingwood coach Tony Shaw was scathing in comments he made about the Hird camp on 3AW this morning.
"Essendon supporters should be filthy [about] the ego-driven, selfishness of the timing of this to come out," Shaw said.
"It's shocking. I think James Hird should never coach AFL footy again."
With Scott Spits