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Parting company: a matter of time

Mark Neeld looks to be on his way out at Melbourne.

Mark Neeld looks to be on his way out at Melbourne. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

The question is no longer if but when Mark Neeld's coaching career at Melbourne will be terminated, and the mood after Sunday's disastrous outing in Perth is that the axe should fall at Monday's board meeting.

If Neeld has been the architect of his own destruction then he is nowhere near solely responsible for this shambles, and a clear stumbling block for the club, which stands to lose close to $3 million in 2013, is that it simply cannot afford to pay out another contract.

Nor, according to more than one player manager and even some at the club, can it afford to keep him. Too many players have been turned over already at Melbourne and should the board wait until the end of the season, more will go.

Former Demons player Brent Moloney's negative assessment of his relationship with Neeld on Fox Footy resonated with some directors almost as loudly as Moloney's performance for the Brisbane Lions against his old side in round five. Neeld alienated too many older players from the start and the new, experienced fodder he fought to recruit for 2013 have scarcely made an impact.

If any directors were hoping the coach could hang on until the end of the season, those votes became even shakier after the Fremantle game. A caretaker coach will be appointed when the time comes and Neil Craig and Todd Viney - again - are front-runners, with Jade Rawlings an outside chance.

The AFL will deny playing any role in the drama about to unfold but head office is clearly pulling the strings. The AFL Commission holds the discretion to grant the club a priority pick at the end of the season and has placed chief executive Peter Jackson in Cameron Schwab's old role to clean up the mess.

The league will not directly fund any payout to Neeld, but surely the funding will come indirectly from the AFL. Jackson has already stated he needs to restructure the club to - at a minimum - put it on an even keel. That will require AFL money, and if Jackson has not put a figure yet to league boss Andrew Demetriou, then it will come soon.

Schwab was less than a year into a three-year contract, which had a six month payout clause. It is not known if Melbourne would have to settle with Neeld for the entirety of 2014.

The new CEO's priority is a football operations boss and that too will cost money for a club that was already facing a $1 million operational loss before it sacked Schwab; before it was fined $500,000 over tanking charges; and before it paid its legal fees, not to mention suffer onfield losses of historic proportions.

Our prediction is that Jackson is already negotiating with Demetriou, and it remains to be seen whether club president Don McLardy or any of his fellow board members will sit at the table when the official request for special funding takes place. They deserve a collective serve for the mess they have overseen and the poor decisions they have made.

Melbourne toyed in such a cavalier and irresponsible fashion with its players when it deliberately set out to gain a priority pick in 2009 and then sacked its coach after 17 rounds in 2011 as the club had an 8-9 win-loss ratio. What Neeld would give for that record come July.

Now the club appears to be setting back young football careers in another fashion. It must move again and it knows it. To stem the bleeding will cost money, but surely to create an environment that finally enhances careers and not destroys them will be a priority.

And no one should begrudge the AFL for funding the rebuild. Poor clubs do not hold the mortgage on irresponsibly cavalier administrations. Just ask Essendon.

102 comments so far

  • Its astounding that a professional organisation can be so utterly bereft of good strategic thinking and make so many poor decisions for so long.

    The coach is only part of the problem, the board should spill first and seek the members approval to reform.

    Commenter
    Captain Grumpy
    Location
    Kingsville
    Date and time
    May 29, 2013, 8:09AM
    • Leave us alone Grumpy

      Commenter
      Hirdy
      Location
      Tullamarine via Windy Hill via Toorak
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 9:50AM
    • "Its astounding that a professional organisation can be so utterly bereft of good strategic thinking and make so many poor decisions for so long.

      I know! Caro is calling for someone's head AGAIN!

      Commenter
      Cranky Frank
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 9:54AM
    • Melbourne wouldn't be in this situation if they'd worked harder on building a better culture at the club- they haven't had a culture worth speaking of since the Norm Smith era. If I were them I would reach out to this city's Asian and Middle Eastern community in the same way that Carlton did to the Greeks and Italians 40-50 years ago (with the result that Carlton became a financial powerhouse). The club's MCC-affiliated fan base may not like this but nor did they like recruiting Irishmen to the club.

      Doing this just might save Melbourne from relocation or something worse.

      Commenter
      andyl12
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 1:15PM
    • Yep Carro's is calling for some-ones head - unfortunately she is right. Melbourne as a club IS PATHETIC. I ask if there is ONE football brain in the whole organization.

      Commenter
      Glen
      Location
      Yea
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 7:23PM
  • Nobody should ever forget Garry Lyon's involvement in this fiasco. Swanning into town, saving his buddy Schwab after an external investigation had pointed the finger at he & Cuddles Connolly for tensions with in the club and then doin a Pontius Pilate on us all, washing his hands off all responsibility. Neeld has been an unmitigated disaster and I suspect things will only get worse. He's already marginalised and moved on players like Rivers, Moloney & Martin and brought in certified duds like Byrnes, Pederson, Gillies & Rodan.Just for good measure, virtually no player has improved under his failed reign. The likes of Frawley, Sylvia & Watts will likely follow at season's end and we'll be in Fitzroy territory if we aren't there already.

    Commenter
    Hank Scorpio
    Date and time
    May 29, 2013, 8:21AM
    • Time for Melbourne to shut up shop. Or move to Tassie?

      Commenter
      Phil
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 8:34AM
    • It's not Neelds fault. Moving him on will prove nothing. There's no money to entice a recognised coach. They need a 5 year & 10 year plan. 5 years to put a better list together using current coaches and recruiting more suitable support staff. 5-10 years to get a spot in the top 8 and entice a quality coach into the ranks. This problem cannot be fixed overnight.
      And ban Garry Lyon from ever putting his foot in the door again.

      Commenter
      Mick of Carlton
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 8:41AM
    • I agree Hank. Who ever said Garry Lyon knows anything about footy? He is more of an entertainer than a serious and strategic football thinker.

      Commenter
      Slewfoot
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 8:46AM
    • who me?

      "The symbolism of today shouldn't be lost on anyone," "I think you will enjoy the fact that whilst tonight is the rebirth of this great footy club, our greatest rival is in disarray.
      "The Collingwood footy club is going down the plughole as the Melbourne footy club re-establishes itself as a power."

      Aug 2009

      Commenter
      Garry L
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      May 29, 2013, 9:51AM

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