The Switkowski report is out, and no heads have been called for. While broad statements have been made about who should have been responsible for what, and what should and should not happen in the future at AFL clubs in relation to supplements and sports science research, there is no blood on the floor, no scalps for the media, no heads on a spike carried around by a rabid supporter base like the end of That Scottish Play.
While the first few non-events are matters for the current Essendon board, the last one isn’t. The reason why there is no uproar from a disenchanted supporter base is because there is no disenchanted supporter base.
Almost to a member, the Essendon faithful have fallen in behind their board, their coach, and their playing group. On the one hand, it’s been quite remarkable to see the solidarity the Essendon family have shown, particularly the playing group, who are undefeated after six games and appear to be genuine premiership contenders.
On the other hand, considering what Essendon are accused of, isn’t a little troubling that no one is making too much noise about perhaps mounting a challenge to the current board? Wouldn’t this sort of “internal ruction” be the usual course of events when a scandal of this magnitude surrounds a club and its board?
Considering the responsibility the board should carry for their part in this entire sorry saga, you would have thought that there was a possibility of a group of high-profile supporters, such as the former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, calling for a spill of positions on the board at the next Annual General Meeting. Not so.
Maybe I’m not reading the right papers or looking in the right places, but it would seem that at the most basic level, something happened at the Essendon Football Club that should not have happened, and even the extract from the Switkowski report confirmed that. They hired a bloke as a sports scientist who wasn’t accredited, and for whom they checked no references. That is a failure of process and structure at the club, for which the board is ultimately responsible. Yet Bomber fans seem happy to let the board continue.
Yesterday David Evans declared that he will vacate his position at the AGM at the end of the year, and will re-contest the presidency of the club. It will be interesting, and perhaps educational, to see if anyone else nominates for the job.
What worries this correspondent is that this silence equates to acceptance and even approval of what has happened at Essendon in the last eighteen months. Essendon already has runs on the board with trying to stretch and bend the rules as they relate to the salary cap, although those days are well behind them. Supporters raised on premierships between 1984 and 2000 have been starved of success recently, and may support a “whatever it takes” attitude. Hey, it was even their membership motto for 2013.
So the football world waits for the next development in this story, and we hope it provides more illumination of the attitude of the Essendon Football Club. Maybe we shouldn’t hold our breath.