Clarkson out as succession plan turns ugly

1 month ago 15
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Hawthorn have reportedly decided to part ways with long-time coach Alastair Clarkson at the end of this season, and possibly even sooner.

The much-publicised succession plan had laid out the club's intentions for former Hawks star Sam Mitchell to take the reins at the end of next season, but meetings at Hawthorn in recent weeks, in addition to reports of disunity in the playing group regarding Clarkson, has heaped pressure on the coach to exit earlier.

The Age reports that Hawthorn made the decision yesterday following another meeting with Clarkson's manager and the Hawks board where it was "agreed that the coach would receive a full payout".

On Wednesday it is reported that the senior leadership group, football director Richie Vandenberg and Hawks boss Justin Reeves met and the players expressed their concern about the tension between Clarkson and Mitchell.

Crawford hinted that Mitchell could make ruthless calls on experienced players at the club like Clarkson did (Getty)

The legendary coach spoke to media last week, trying to clear the air amid ugly exchanges between Mitchell and the media after speculation about the succession plan and his ambitions, but Clarkson's efforts appeared to have been in vain.

"I'm going to continue on and do this role until the end of next year," the four-time Premiership-winning coach said last week.

"We understood there was going to be speculation... I'll see through my commitment, I've always been that way.

"Whether it's with a marriage or whether it's in business or your work.

"Once you make a commitment to someone then you follow through to the end and my commitment to Sam Mitchell is through to the end of next year."

Sam Mitchell Alastair Clarkson (Getty)

A few days earlier Mitchell emphatically denied reports he wanted Clarkson to leave earlier so he could coach Hawthorn from the beginning of 2022 instead.

AFL insider Caroline Wilson claimed on Nine's Footy Classified that Hawthorn had held "a mediation session" between Mitchell and Clarkson that went horribly wrong, with Hawks club bosses walking away feeling that Mitchell did want the head coach role sooner rather than later.

That prompted a terse response from Mitchell, who rejected the claims.

"Absolutely not. That has not happened," Mitchell said on SEN.

"We've been working on some form of succession for such a long period of time."

Following a 134-game AFL career with North Melbourne and the Demons, Clarkson experienced incredible success as a coach at Hawthorn. He joined the club in 2005 and led the Hawks to win AFL flags in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015, becoming Hawthorn's most accomplished coach.

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