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James Hird's coaching future in doubt

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The coaching future of James Hird is in limbo today after the fallout from his wife Tania Hird’s interview on ABC TV last night.

Channel Nine’s Today Show reported this morning that “James Hird was all but sacked” after the interview repeated accusations the AFL boss Andrew Demetriou had tipped off Essendon that they were about to be investigated by Australia’s anti-doping body, ASADA.

Essendon denied Hird had been sacked, however the club will meet with him to discuss his future.

Club chairman Paul Little told Melbourne radio today that: “up until the events of the last 24 hours we believed James was acting and responding to our request in a positive way.

“The club will need to meet now to determine how we go forward in relation to the James Hird issue and probably the broader group that surround James.”

Tania Hird again blasted the AFL over its handling of the Essendon supplements scandal, saying the league insisted that her husband James would be the scapegoat.

In a TV interview screened the night before Essendon’s round-one match against North Melbourne, she also referred to the explosive allegation that AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou tipped off the Bombers about the crisis.

Demetriou has vehemently denied the claim, first made last July.

Tania Hird alleges former Essendon chairman David Evans told her husband in a telephone conversation not to mention the matter to ASADA.

She said in the interview, shown during Thursday night’s 7.30 Report on the ABC, that she was listening on speaker phone and took notes.

James Hird is serving a 12-month AFL suspension and the Bombers remain under ASADA investigation.

Tania Hird said the AFL was determined that Hird be suspended over the supplements scandal.

“I definitely think James was the scapegoat – in fact we were told that James being the scapegoat was non-negotiable,” she said.

“It wasn’t about the integrity of the game, by any stretch of the imagination.

“It was all about the AFL brand.”

Hird’s lawyer Stephen Amendola also repeated his criticisms of how the AFL ran the disciplinary process that led to the suspension.

“They looked to behave like a bunch of cashed-up bogans who thought they could do what they wanted,” Amendola said.

“(It was) just a complete failure of process and it fundamentally arises from the (AFL) commission structure.

“The commission is the investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury.

“The idea that they don’t think there’s something wrong with that is frankly astounding.”

The comments by Tania Hird and Amendola came a day after James appeared on the club’s Fox Sports program The Hangar.

The suspended coach did not comment directly about his suspension or the AFL, but was enthusiastic about returning to the club in August.

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