Joel Bowden has confirmed his interest in returning to the AFL Players Association as its CEO after current head Matt Finnis departs to take over at St Kilda - a move that was formalised today.
While Ian Prendergast, the former Carlton footballer and trained lawyer who is currently the AFLPA’s general manager of player relations, will be the natural favourite to replace Finnis, Bowden has confirmed his interest in the role to Fairfax Media on Tuesday.
President of the AFLPA until his retirement as a decorated 265-game Richmond footballer, Bowden has broadened his experience beyond the game but has never drifted far from it.
Through taking up a role at LinFox in business and government programs in playing retirement, 35-year-old Bowden built important relationships with businessman Lindsay Fox and AFL Commissioner Bill Kelty. One of Bowden’s first assignments at LinFox involved working closely with the influential pair.
Bowden joined the AFL in 2012, assuming the position of game analysis manager, which now sees him working in Mark Evans’ football operations department. His brief was recently broadened after he accepted a role on the AFL's match review panel. Bowden is also completing his MBA at Melbourne University.
Prendergast’s CV is equally impressive and his current position at the AFLPA will hold him in good stead, provided he applies for the promotion of the CEO’s job. Prendergast could not be reached on Tuesday afternoon.
After serving as an AFLPA player delegate from 2004 – 06 while he was at Carlton - Prendergast played 65 games for the Blues - he became CEO of the SANFL Players Association before winning his current position at the AFLPA in 2010. Prendergast beat former Hawthorn player, Nick Holland, to the job of Finnis’s second-in-charge.
With Finnis understood to have already told senior AFLPA staff of his intention to take the CEO’s post at St Kilda, his move is expected to be confirmed at the press conference in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon - the day after Andrew Demetriou announced he would stand down as AFL chief at the end of this season.
It’s understood the AFLPA will use executive search firm Slade Group to find Finnis’s replacement.