Calling it smoke with no fire, St Kilda are adamant that the constant speculation around Brad Scott as their next AFL senior coach is wrong.
After months of uncertainty, the Saints officially joined North Melbourne and Carlton in the coaching market place on Tuesday when Alan Richardson left.
Richardson and Saints chief executive Matt Finnis chose their words carefully throughout two lengthy media conferences at Moorabbin, couching it as a mutual decision that followed constant conversations between them since the start of the year.
Now the attention turns to who takes over from St Kilda's second longest-serving coach, who ultimately did not take them to the finals in his six-year tenure.
Saints football boss Simon Lethlean is friends with Scott, who left North two months ago, and this has fuelled the talk that he will be their next senior coach.
Finnis is emphatic that is nonsense.
"I've been around this game long enough to know there's not always fire where there's smoke," Finnis said.
"Any suggestions that those kinds of decisions get made on the basis of a friendship or a connection should just be absolutely disregarded.
"This will be a rigorous process ... we will make sure we get it right."
Officially, the process starts on Thursday when St Kilda president Andrew Bassat returns from overseas and heads their coaching sub-committee.
Former Carlton coach Brett Ratten, who joined St Kilda this season as an assistant, assumes the caretaker role.
While Scott is the bookies' favourite, Rhyce Shaw at North and David Teague at Carlton have shown that an interim coach can boost his stocks enormously with some wins.
St Kilda are on a four-game losing streak in a season where little has gone right.
After last year's disaster, when they expected to push for the top eight and only won four games, they revamped their football department.
But key players Dylan Roberton (heart), Paddy Concussion (concussion), Jack Steven (mental health), and injured pair Jarryn Geary and Dan Hannebery either have not played or missed big chunks of the season.
After a promising start, they have fallen away.
The tipping point was the loss to North two weekends ago in Hobart, when St Kilda were belted in the first quarter.
"It was then that there was some real frankness about the unlikelihood of going ahead," Richardson said of his ongoing conversations with Finnis.
St Kilda were much better last weekend against Geelong and led at halftime, but ultimately could not finish off the top side.
That killed off their barren finals hopes - a key for Richardson staying next year and seeing out of his contract.
Richardson and Finnis acknowledged the need to make the call now, given player recruiting and the busy coaching marketplace.
"There are conversations with players - that we're not allowed to talk about - from other footy clubs," Richardson said.
"You're turning up and pitching and you want them to join your footy club and there's uncertainty around the senior coach - that doesn't really work.
"Really, it's as simple as I've had my crack at it, it hasn't worked, it's time for someone else to have a go."
The decision was taken on Monday and Richardson, who was contracted for next year, told the players on Tuesday morning in an emotional meeting.
RICHARDSON'S RECORD AT ST KILDA
126 games from 2014-19 (43 wins, 81 losses and 2 draws)
Best finish: 9th with 12 wins in 2016.
Australian Associated Press