With Robson gone, what's next for Essendon?
Ian Robson's resignation as Essendon's CEO wasn't unexpected, but senior footy reporter Jake Niall says there are likely to be more casualties in the fallout.PT0M0S 620 349
From the moment the Essendon supplements scandal broke, Ian Robson's hold on his job was tenuous. From the moment Ziggy Switkowski handed down his report into the club Robson was effectively serving his notice.
Robson has now quit as Essendon chief executive, felled by the Switkowski report. Putting aside fitness boss Dean Robinson, who has been stood down, Robson has become the first and certainly not the last casualty of the peptides scandal that the club remains embroiled in.
He was a relatively easy target. An easy kill.
In the absence of anyone else prepared to take responsibility for implementing the programs that severely damaged the club, Robson has been forced to take responsibility for the fact he did not know what those under him were doing. It is now difficult to fathom how or why those under him who actually knew what was going on and sanctioned it can survive. If you can go for not knowing, surely you cannot stay for knowing.
Robson did not go as soon as the peptides scandal broke - although he offered his resignation - but now he said was the right time to go. There was no need to wait until the outcome of the ASADA-AFL investigation, the Switkowski report made that clear. Switkowski was heavily critical of the governance structures at the club, of the mechanisms that were not in place to catch this sort of thing before it spiraled out of control. Robson agreed.
Switkowski at once praised and damned Robson. He declared the club's balance sheet robust and was impressed with the financial management of the club. But management goes beyond the profit and loss, just as it goes beyond the win and the loss.
Essendon did not need to wait until the outcome of the ASADA investigation, and to learn if the club cheated and gave its players banned substances, to conclude that the man responsible for overseeing the club should go.
Why it is that the club needs to wait to learn the outcome of the ASADA report before deciding the fate of others in football management positions is a curious discrepancy.
The question whether the coach or the football director take responsibility appears to be predicated on the ultimate legality of the programs in question and whether the players took banned substances. It has not yet been a question of the ethics or appropriateness of the program. It has not yet been a question of who did the background check on the man – Stephen Dank – that it decided to hire, and wishes to sheet home blame to for the supplements program.
Neither the coach nor the head of football have been held to account for the fact that, on their own admission, they had no idea what the players were given. In a business sense, being ignorant of the treatment of your business' most valuable asset is pathetic management. In a club sense being oblivious, or worse cavalier, in the treatment of people, is worse.
But Robson has gone sooner because Robson going was easier. He came from outside the clique of former players or coaching staff: he was not an "Essendon person" and so there was less emotionally invested in him. His departure does not cause relationship conflicts within the club of those who have longer histories together.
Practically, it is also much easier to replace a CEO mid-year than it is a coach, a head of football, or even a fitness head. The best available replacements only typically become available outside the cycle of a football season. The same is not said for the CEO, who can be drawn in from outside the football industry.