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Carlton chief executive Greg Swann will leave the club mid-season, in a simultaneous June departure with outgoing president Stephen Kernahan.
Fairfax Media understands that Swann, who left Collingwood in 2007 to join the Blues, has been aware of his imminent exit for some time, but he officially informed club staff on Wednesday of the timing.
While Swann has helped stabilise Carlton financially since taking up office, it’s believed he was recently informed by representatives of the Blues board that he would not have his contract renewed beyond this season.
While it was originally thought by some that Swann may see out the entire 2014 season as CEO, he was in the unusual position of being on a short-term contractual arrangement and had his detractors in the Blues fractured hierarchy.
Swann told Fairfax Media on Wednesday he was “disappointed to be leaving the club". However, he added: “I'm happy with the decision. I think it's time for me to move on and see what's out there."
Swann's name has been linked strongly with Brisbane and he remains on the shortlist of candidates at that club although he has not yet been approached by the Lions.
He is expected to be replaced at Carlton in the short term by football boss Andrew McKay, with the club embarking on an executive search through recruiters Egon Zehnder - the company engaged by the AFL to replace Andrew Demetriou.
Fairfax Media understands that Egon Zehnder was engaged some weeks before Swann’s departure was officially announced.
While Egon Zehnder is already aware, after completing the major headhunting exercise for the AFL, of some of the best administrative talent in the AFL, it’s understood Carlton would be equally interested in candidates beyond those with a ‘traditional’ football background.
Swann's departure comes as something as a blow to coach Mick Malthouse. The pair's strong relationship was built at Collingwood and continued at Carlton, and the outgoing CEO is understood to have kept Malthouse informed of his thought process as his position seemed increasingly tenuous with a changing of the guard at board level.
Swann was also singled out for criticism earlier this year by Bruce Mathieson, widely considered to remain a voice with some influence at Carlton though he has no official role with the club.
Mathieson, whose nephew, Craig Mathieson, on the Blues’ board called for Swann to resign in a radio outburst in April.
Asked, on Wednesday, if he expected to remain in the AFL system, Swann replied: "Seven years at Collingwood, seven years at Carlton ... it's certainly an option. I've been doing this for almost 15 years now. It's what I know."
Carlton is celebrating its 150th year with a major function in June and Kernahan will stand aside officially at a scheduled June 23 board meeting.
Having both the president and CEO step aside mid-year will mark a profound change in leadership in a club disappointed by its on-field, and certain elements of its off-field, performance in recent times.
Young successful businessman Ryan Trainor, regarded as a modern and innovative face of Carlton, also recently stepped down from the board after Mark LoGiudice won a vote to succeed Kernahan.
Another Carlton director, Luke Sayers, also said recently that significant change within the club’s hierarchy was imminent. A panelist at the AFL’s women in football industry lunch, Sayers suggested that his club, which has no female representatives on the executive Swann has led, and a lone female board member in Jeanne Pratt - was pushing to redress that imbalance.