Essendon coach Mark Thompson has cast doubt over his future at the club next season, revealing he does not sense there will be a role for him once James Hird returns.
Thompson has so far been noncommittal about his intentions for 2015. However on Monday night he revealed that, while he was open to staying on, he did not think it was likely, given important positions - Hird as senior coach, Simon Goodwin as senior assistant and Neil Craig as head of coaching development and strategy - were already taken.
Thompson agreed to coach the Bombers this year while Hird served a 12-month suspension meted out by the AFL for his part in the supplements program that was implemented when he was coach in 2012. Thirty-four current and past Essendon players are now facing infraction notices from anti-doping body ASADA.
On Fox Footy on Monday night, Thompson said "I"m happy to stay if they really want" but in relation to what role he would perform added: "I don"t see one there at the moment because they are all filled".
He said: "The agreement was, it was easy for me to come in and take it [Hird's position] because I could leave at the end of the year and it wouldn't adjust or affect the other positions at the club.
"Neil Craig's in his role, Goody [Goodwin] is in his role and Hirdy just slips into mine. I was going to slip out."
Thompson, who accepted a $30,000 fine for his part in the supplements saga, qualified his statements by saying he had not thought about, or discussed, his future with the club in great detail.
He said he had a good relationship with Hird, though he played down suggestions the pair could form a "co-coaching" partnership.
"I"m not sure how that would work," he said.
Thompson signalled that a cap on football department spending, set to be introduced at clubs soon, could also be a factor in him leaving.
He said he still felt invested in the club and that, having done plenty of work developing the players since he arrived in 2011, he did not want to "just walk out and leave this team, either" - especially when it could be set for better things in the coming years.
"Definitely, the years to come are going to be built on what has happened in the past and they should have some good years," Thompson said.
Having missed the finals in the past two seasons, the Bombers are closing in on securing a spot in September this year, sitting in seventh position, and one game ahead of ninth-placed Richmond with two rounds remaining.