A Hawthorn board member seeking re-election has called for Hawks president Jeff Kennett to be allowed to exit the club “with the dignity he deserves”.
Hawthorn board member Tim Shearer, who is responsible for fundraising for the Hawks’ new Dingley base, said he would hate to see Kennett leaving the club in the way that Eddie McGuire did at Collingwood earlier this year.
Jeff Kennett.Credit:Getty Images
“Jeff should bow out with the dignity and respect he deserves,” Shearer said, referring to Kennett’s announcement that he would leave sooner than his last term as president, which concludes at the end of 2023.
“He should be given the dignity and respect that he deserves because he’s been a colossal contributor to the club.
“I’m honoured to know Jeff and have really enjoyed working with him.”
Shearer, who works for Scotch College and is president of Old Scotch in the amateurs, said he had been saddened by the nature of McGuire’s exit from Collingwood – which followed his botched response to the Do Better report – and did not want to see Kennett, as such a great servant, bow out in that way.
“It saddened me that Eddie, who had done so much for Collingwood, left the club in the way that he did, and I would hate to see that happen to Jeff.”
Shearer said Kennett and McGuire were “great characters” of the game who had contributed much and would be missed.
“We will miss people like Jeff and Eddie, when you end up with a lot of people who are going to bowl 10 overs for 0-40.
“They’re great characters who’ve contributed a lot to the game.”
Kennett has indicated a willingness to leave earlier than his term, the club board agreeing to a form a committee – of board members and others – to find the next president by June 30 next year.
The expectation of “Hawks for Change,” which has pushed for Kennett to leave sooner than his full term, is that Kennett will step down next year some time.
Shearer is seeking one of three candidates seeking two board positions. Ex-Australian Super boss Ian Silk and lawyer and long-time supporter Jennifer Holdstock are also vying for those positions. Silk, who is backed by both “Hawks for Change” and the board, is heavily favoured to win one of those berths.
Shearer’s pitch to members is that he should be allowed to continue his role as the board member responsible for fundraising for Dingley, a project that he said would end up costing $90m-$100m, but would be initially completed for $80m. The Hawks have raised $17.5m of the required $40m from individual donations.
“I think I’ve got the skill set and experience to drive the fundraising of $22.5 million.”
As a member of the board for three years, Shearer was also involved in the contentious decision to pay out Alastair Clarkson the final year of his contract and expedite the handover to Sam Mitchell – a decision he stands by, saying that Clarkson and the club had become “misaligned” on the direction of list management.
“I stand by the decision, that Alastair situation … with every year that’s gone, we were becoming more strategically misaligned in terms of the direction we needed.”
Clarkson had believed the club could continue to use free agency and trades to “challenge”.
“I strongly believed we needed to go back to the draft.
“Sam needs to be given support and time. He needs to be given a lot of time. There will not be a quick fix as far as I’m concerned.”
Shearer said to get the initial target of $80m, the club needed $40m, of which it had already raised $17.5m – counting the astonishing $10m donated by ex-vice president and benefactor Geoff Harris. The club had pledges of $15m from the federal government, an expected $15m from the Victorian government and $5m from the local council, the city of Kingston.
Shearer said of his election opponents: “We are going into an election and I totally respect their right to contest.”
The Hawks are expecting only a small portion – perhaps less than 10 per cent of the club’s 44,000 eligible members – to vote.
In his role as head of fundraising for Scotch, Shearer also coaches the year nine first team. He has coached Bulldogs 2020 No.1 pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, and 2021 No.2 pick Sam Darcy and young father-son Hawk Finn Maginness, the former pair having joined the school as part of an Indigenous program.
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