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Published 11 February 2013 12:02, Updated 13 February 2013 11:40
Facing tough questions ... Essendon chiefs (left to right) CEO Ian Robson, president David Evans and coach James Hird speak at a press conference following the uncovering of the doping scandal that has enveloped the club. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Eleven current and former Rich List members. Current and former frontbenchers. At least two QCs. Executives from some of Australia’s biggest corporations. Enough law and accounting firm partners to start a standing army.
The list of directors of the 16 AFL clubs and 16 NRL clubs reads like a who’s-who of Australian business. For many, these board positions represent a chance to indulge their passions outside the office and give something back to the sports they love.
But as Australia’s sporting scandal deepens by the day, the pressure on these directors is likely to increase. What did the directors know about what was going on inside their club? What should they have known?
Sports law experts and corporate governance experts agree that director responsibilities at a football club do not differ from those at a major corporation, and football club directors need to think carefully about what they delegate and what issues they must stay across.
Melbourne University corporate law academic Ian Ramsay told The Australian Financial Review that directors “must put in place systems so that information is provided upwards to appropriate executives and where appropriate to the board itself”.
He cited the issue of drugs in sport as a example of a hot issue in the industry and a “clear example where boards need to ensure there are systems in place and where it’s closely monitored”.
Last night, the AFL confirmed that a group of players from Essendon are under investigation, as is another player from an as-yet unnamed club.
Essendon’s board is a good example of the high calibre of directors that footy clubs can attract.
Chairman David Evans is the son of former Rich 200 member Ron Evans and a well respected stock broker. It was a shocked Evans who called in the AFL and anti-doping agencies to examine claims that supplements taken by the club’s players may have been illegal.
Fellow board member Paul Little was the long-standing chief of transport group Toll and remains a Rich 200 member.
There is no suggestion that these board members, or any of the board members listed below, have failed to do their duty as directors.
However, with the Australian Crime Commission yet to divulge which clubs have been tainted by the drugs scandal, boards are sure to be examining their internal processes and systems in the coming weeks and months.
Gold Coast Suns
Dr Alan Mackenzie
Greater Western Sydney
William T Houghton
West Coat Eagles
North Queensland Cowboys
Gold Coast Titans
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Newcastle Knights (Advisory board)
Eric Grothe Snr
New Zealand Warriors
Nicholas Di Girolamo