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Tania Hird could be summoned by Essendon board

Caroline Wilson

Published: March 24 2014 - 7:13PM

James Hird has attempted to distance himself from a series of scathing attacks on the AFL launched by his family in recent days as his coaching career hung in the balance.

The Essendon board met via telephone link-up on Monday and deferred a more meaningful discussion on Hird’s future until Wednesday night, where the suspended coach’s controversial wife Tania could be summoned. 

While Essendon’s initial advice is that the Tania Hird comments last Thursday night may not contravene the terms of her husband’s contract, Essendon will continue to seek legal counsel as it has not ruled out removing Hird from the club – a move that could otherwise cost it $2 million.

The Hirds, too, are continuing to examine their legal options should the club sack its 2000 premiership captain, whose actions in pursuing, overseeing and failing to control the dangerous drug program of 2012 led to his club being charged with bringing the game into disrepute, stripped of early draft picks and fined $2 million.

But there remains every chance that no final decision will be reached by the board on Hird this week with the club still awaiting potential infraction notices from the anti-doping authorities.

Any verdict about Hird could be put off until the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority hands down its report on Essendon.

Sport scientist Stephen Dank, who has allegedly incurred 34 violations of the national anti-doping code, could receive an infraction notice from ASADA along with the club’s former high-performance boss, Dean Robinson.

It remains unclear whether more officials or players will receive notices from the Australian drug agency.

Fairfax Media understands Hird and club chairman Paul Little spoke on Sunday after Hird’s father Allan told The Sunday Age he regarded AFL chief Andrew Demetriou as a bully.

Tania Hird told 7.30 the AFL had not been interested in integrity but in saving its brand.

While Hird did not deny knowledge of his wife’s interview with the ABC, he said the decision to take part had been hers.

Little remains severely disappointed in the Hird camp’s timing and their refusal to put the club and its 2014 season ahead of personal interest. Little has denied Matthew Lloyd’s suggestion that Hird was told at the weekend that he was safe.

When Hird’s contract was rewritten late last year to include the prepayment of a ‘‘special’’ bonus worth about $700,000, he was obliged to accept his penance and not dispute the agreement with the AFL.

Tania Hird on Thursday night accused former Essendon chairman David Evans of instructing her husband to withhold certain information from ASADA, a charge previously denied by Evans. She also claimed AFL commissioner Bill Kelty had told the Hirds the AFL had planned a special board meeting where it had intended to order Hird to stand down last season.

While Kelty, too, has denied this, there are genuine fears that previously classified information from inside Essendon could be made public by the Hirds.

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