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Gordon back in charge

PETER Gordon sought reassurance from AFL bosses Mike Fitzpatrick and Andrew Demetriou before agreeing to return to the helm of the Western Bulldogs after 17 years.

The former Bulldogs president, who took over the club and saved it from merging with Fitzroy back in 1989, will replace David Smorgon at the club's annual general meeting in December after Smorgon stepped down at Monday night's board meeting.

Club director Susan Alberti, who is recovering from open-heart surgery, will be Gordon's vice-president.

The international legal figure told The Age last month that he would only return to the club if he felt that drastic circumstances demanded it.

While Smorgon has overseen close to two decades of relative stability, transformed facilities and on-field improvement, the club remains reliant on AFL support and has faced a number of challenges as it attempts to rebuild its football list.

Gordon, accompanied by Smorgon, held talks with Fitzpatrick, Demetriou and Gillon McLachlan at AFL headquarters on Monday and was reassured regarding the Bulldogs' ongoing viability.


Gordon, who was famously at odds with head office for much of his seven-year tenure, also sought assurances that no lingering animosity existed following his tumultuous reign, which ended in 1996.

Smorgon confirmed last night that he felt satisfied the club was in good hands after the Bulldogs' board on Monday night endorsed Gordon's official return to the club. ''I feel good,'' Smorgon told The Age.

''I'm feeling OK and I only would have stayed on for another year had our selection committee endorsed a candidate who needed to spend a year working with the board.

''Clearly that is not the case with Peter. He has been very supporting of me and very encouraging and the club is in good hands.''

Smorgon and Gordon have worked closely in recent years after the former president's estrangement from the club in the years that followed his departure. He has worked as a voluntary consultant to the Bulldogs on a number of issues and was heavily endorsed by the presidential sub-committee lead by Ian Beale.