‘I want him gone’: AFL club at breaking point

Hawthorn has reportedly held crisis talks to solve its messy coaching marriage headed for divorce.

Reports emerged this week Alastair Clarkson, his successor Sam Mitchell and Hawthorn officials met last week in a mediation session to strike a deal surrounding the club’s coaching future.

The Hawks’ decision to announce Sam Mitchell as Clarkson’s successor as coach — beginning at the start of the 2023 season — has attracted plenty of criticism and stunning details are now emerging about how deep the troubles go at the club.

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According to reports Clarkson is digging his heels in while Mitchell is reported to have told club officials he wants Clarkson gone a year early to allow him to take over from the start of the 2022 season.

The Herald Sun reported Wednesday Clarkson will refuse to walk early while remaining under contract for 15 more months and has more than $1 million remaining on his deal.

The complications for Hawthorn to pay Clarkson out in full include that the club would have to include the payment in its football department soft cap, according to The Age.

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson first reported on Nine’s Footy Classified Hawthorn is moving closer to pulling the trigger on asking Clarkson to walk a year ahead of schedule.

“I’m told that during that meeting it became clear that Sam Mitchell would rather have clean air, to have a fresh start next year without Alastair Clarkson by his side,” Wilson said.

Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson.Source:Getty Images

“When this meeting took place – and this happened after a pretty flattening loss against the Fremantle footy club – I think Alastair went along with this, according to some sources at the Hawthorn Football Club.”

The Herald Sun now reports Clarkson isn’t going anywhere, suggesting the club is facing a “15-month hell ride” with Clarkson and Mitchell no longer seeing eye to eye.

Footy legend Garry Lyon responded to the reports on Wednesday by saying:

“I don’t know that Sam Mitchell has said ‘I want (Alastair) Clarkson gone and I want to be the coach on my own.’ That’s what’s been reported,” he said on SEN Radio.

“If that’s a statement of fact, my opinion is Sam Mitchell is not the man to coach Hawthorn, or your football club.”

Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall earlier this month criticised the Hawks’ decision and predicted the situation would get “messy”.

Dunstall, who won four premierships with Hawthorn, said he was “gobsmacked” when he heard the shock news on Tuesday.

Dunstall, who was part of the administration that appointed Clarkson as coach in 2004, said he didn’t agree with the decision.

“I was gobsmacked by the news when I heard it today. I didn’t know it was coming,” he told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.

“I was very, very surprised.

“It’s a bold decision, is what it is. It’s brave — knowing you’re giving up the best coach in the modern era who I think still has plenty of currency — gee you’re placing a lot of faith and pressure on Sam Mitchell.

“But only time will tell if it was the right decision.”

“It’s a brave, bold decision. It’s probably not one I would have made.”

Dunstall said he doesn’t believe coaching succession plans work and it could end badly for Hawthorn.

Dunstall said Clarkson has created an immense legacy at Hawthorn after leading the club to premierships in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015. .

“It’s been an enormous contribution to the club,” he said.

“Where else do you find someone who delivers you 4 flags in 18 years?”

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