The future ain't bright: Essendon players return to the rooms at half-time during the match against North Melbourne on Saturday. Photo: Joe Armao
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy hasn't ruled out a return to Essendon next year, but insists if he did so it would be about ''fixing things up'' at the club whose brand has been dragged through the mud by the supplements scandal.
Sheedy on Saturday night confirmed a Fairfax Media report that he had been approached by coterie group members at the Bombers to return to the club.
But the former Essendon premiership coach said any possible return home in 2014 would not be based on romance. ''If I went back to Essendon, it wouldn't be about romance, it would be about fixing things up,'' he said.
The 65-year-old will retire from senior coaching when he hands over the duties to Leon Cameron at the end of this season but the Giants have offered Sheedy the role of football director, with a seat on the board, to stay at the expansion club.
''I've had talks with people, right. They are coterie people. They wanted me to come back 12 months ago,'' Sheedy said, confirming the Fairfax Media report, but claiming the approach came from outside the Essendonians coterie group.
''But in the end, I've enjoyed my time at the Giants. I'm not rushing back to Melbourne, to be honest,'' he said. ''I've got to work on a contract I'm negotiating at the moment with the Giants. Just got to work through what that job is going to be. If it comes through, it's OK. If it doesn't, I'll move on to another area.''
It became even more apparent on Saturday that Essendon needs to sell a message of hope to its supporters after a crowd of 34,102 came to watch the Bombers suffer their fourth consecutive loss, under the roof at Etihad Stadium, against North Melbourne.
The Bombers last season drew 45,818 against the Roos in round one and 42,674 in round 20.
Essendon takes on Carlton in a Saturday night blockbuster at the MCG, confident it can shake off the energy-sapping toll the supplements scandal has taken on the players over the past month.
The seventh-placed Bombers cannot drop out of the top eight in the final two rounds, but can miss the finals if the AFL Commission decides to strip the club of its premiership points as part of any penalties it hands down.
The AFL Commission is set to hear the case on August 26, one week before the finals begin, although just how far the Bombers want to take their battle with the AFL could be known as early as Monday.
Hird, through his legal team, mounted a challenge to the AFL Commission by demanding a public hearing of the supplements case by an independent tribunal no sooner than two weeks after the conclusion of the AFL finals and has asserted that league chief executive Andrew Demetriou is a conflicted party who should not sit in judgment of the matter. Monday is the deadline Hird has set for an AFL response to those demands. Should that pass without a resolution, Hird's camp will look at taking the matter to court, which could be in the form of an injunction against the AFL's charges and the commission hearing to ensure Essendon competes in the finals series.
There remain some clubs on the fringe of the top eight holding out in case the Bombers are stripped of their points and forfeit their spot come September.
Despite a disappointing loss to Geelong on Saturday night sealing West Coast's fate in a traditional sense, coach John Worsfold refuses to concede his side is out of the premiership race.
The 11th-placed Eagles are equal with 10th-placed North Melbourne on points and one game behind Carlton in the race for ninth spot - which would presumably become eighth spot if Essendon loses its points.
''I don't think we can make the eight right now. But come the end of the home-and-away season, the top eight will play finals,'' a cryptic Worsfold said after the loss to Geelong.
''But I can guarantee you one thing, that there'll be eight teams in the finals, and that will be determined after the home-and-away season.''