Essendon coach Ben Rutten has avoided the axe, while president Paul Brasher stepped down from his position prior to the club’s embarrassing 84-point loss to Port Adelaide on Sunday evening.
The Bombers have endured a horror season coming off a finals appearance last year, slumping to 15th on the AFL ladder with seven wins in the opening 21 rounds.
Rumours began to swirl early on Monday surrounding the future of Rutten, but following an improptu board meeting Rutten’s fate at the helm was spared.
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The depature of Brasher could open the door for the Bombers to make a last second play to try and swoop on former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson who is reportedly set to ink a five-year contract with North Melbourne.
Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell confirmed Rutten wasn’t being sacked as the coach and confirmed the club had not had a discussion with Clarkson.
“Ben is still our coach,” Campbell said.
“There’s ongoing discussions at board level. They will continue this week.
“I have not spoken to Alastair Clarkson.”
Clarkson’s name was linked to the Bombers after news of Brasher’s departure became public knowledge.
Essendon released a statement on Monday afternoon confirming Brasher was departing the club, the statment made no mention of Rutten.
ABC journalist Sam Wilkinson wrote: “No mention of Ben Rutten.”
Other Bombers fans were less than impressed with the statement.
“Zero mention of our coach. Clearly zero confidence. Make the call and move on,” one fan wrote.
Another added: “lmao you cant make this up, no mention of Rutten or the coach position at all.”
Essendon recorded several unwanted milestones on Sunday, including Rutten’s biggest-ever defeat as coach, his most points conceded as coach and Essendon’s second-biggest loss against the Power.
On Fox Footy’s coverage, a spectator was overheard screaming after the final siren: “This is f***ing embarrassing.”
Speaking to reporters in the post-match press conference, Rutten slammed his side’s “embarrassing effort” after fans booed players from Marvel Stadium.
“Were bitterly disappointed,” he said.
“It was the sort of game that our members and supporters who came to the game or were watching on TV … it’s not the sort of thing they should have to watch.
“It was an embarrassing effort from our guys. It’s not something we want to stand for and not something our members and supporters should have to watch at any stage.”
Back in May, Brasher announced an internal review of the club with opinions split on whether it should have been an external review.
He told members the club was “examining every aspect of our football program”, with football director Sean Wellman overseeing the review.
“I think you’re going to see real improvement in the second half of the year,” Brasher said at the time.
“We don’t want honourable losses. We’re happy about effort, but that is the baseline and we’re looking to improve upon that and not going to take to light about losing to good sides by narrow margins.”
David Barham will be the new Essendon president, according to several reports.
On Sunday, North Melbourne legend David King hit out at the Bombers for failing to make a serious play at Clarkson.
“For six months, if not 12 months, Alastair Clarkson has been sitting idle ready to be grabbed by a football club,” he told Fox Footy’s First Crack.
“Why haven’t Essendon taken that step?
“Right now they lack system, they lack motivation and they lack standards as a footy club and I reckon the Essendon faithful are sick of it.
“Why are they gambling on a coach that is still developing when the absolute finished product is there?
“OK you’ve got to jump through a lot of hoops to get over the line, but if (Clarkson) signs at North Melbourne this week and Essendon could have got him with the list they’ve got right now, I think it’s a mistake they will rue for years.”