Scott Watters remains confident he will receive a new contract before the start of next season. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
St Kilda coach Scott Watters came close to losing his job after an internal review into the club's dysfunctional football operation revealed the depth of disharmony within the club and widespread disenchantment with the senior coach.
The Saints board last week debated terminating Watters' services despite the fact the coach had supported the review into the football operation in the belief it would lead to him winning a contract extension.
As the extent of the turmoil at St Kilda continued to unfold, it also emerged on Tuesday:
Eagles boss Trevor Nisbett has been ambitiously targeted by the board to replace departing CEO Michael Nettlefold.
St Kilda considered approaching 2004 Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams to step into the senior coaching role.
A number of assistant coaches, including the experienced Dean Laidley, are out of contract and remain in the dark about their futures.
Nettlefold's relationship with Watters had seriously deteriorated in recent months.
The board, under new chairman Peter Summers, decided against sacking the coach given the magnitude of the move, the fact the club had not yet appointed a new chief executive and the reality that Watters had one year remaining on his contract. While the Saints have constantly denied suggestions of a seven-figure loss in 2013, the club will lose significant money.
Watters' relationship with his senior players has been an ongoing issue this season as his working partnership with football boss Chris Pelchen has continued to hit serious hurdles, partly due to a clash over authority.
A number of attempts to mediate between Watters and Pelchen have taken place over recent weeks with the Andrew Thompson-led football review underlining Pelchen's seniority, and Watters instructed to report directly to his departmental head.
Despite the fact that Watters' tenure was placed under immediate threat, the coach remains confident he will receive a new contract before the start of next season.
The senior coach's push for an extended deal began during the season after he controversially made public the fact St Kilda had moved into rebuilding mode. That claim came after the club's round-two loss to Richmond, blindsiding the players and the executive, including Nettlefold.
The club's determination to begin again and regard 2014 as a development year, was highlighted by the unforseen trade involving 24-year-old ruckman Ben McEvoy, who had been widely regarded as a future captain of St Kilda – a club that has had a number of off-field player issues in recent years.
McEvoy described on 3AW on Tuesday night how shocked he had been to learn that the club had already struck a deal with Hawthorn while he was overseas, adding that he would have liked the opportunity to have remained at St Kilda and played a role in rebuilding the club and reforming its culture.
The AFL has continually denied that it is on the verge of intervening at St Kilda, although the league's deputy chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, is a Saints supporter and a friend of football director Thompson.
A Saints' sub-committee has been formed to identify a new club chief with the new CEO expected to oversee a significant restructure of the club.
AFL chief Andrew Demetriou told Fairfax Media that he had no knowledge of any plan to approach Nisbett, one of the game's longest-serving and respected CEOs. Nisbett, who is contracted to West Coast until the end of 2014, is holidaying in the US and did not return calls.
Eagles chairman Alan Cransberg said he was not surprised to learn that Nisbett was at the top of another club's wish-list, but added: "Maybe I'm a little naive, but I'd like to think if they were going to approach one of my staff, they would let me know."