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NO QUICK FIX: Crows board hopeful pulls pin despite heavyweight backing

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A hopeful for the Adelaide Crows chairmanship has pulled the pin on his bid after a cold shoulder from the club’s board, declaring the task to turn their fortunes around would be too “significant and time-consuming” – but his snub is set to leave simmering tensions after key figures backed his bid.

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Vicinity CEO and Adelaide 36ers owner Grant Kelley said he wouldn’t progress his interest in joining the Crows board, warning the next chair would be taking on a long-term role in steering the bottom-placed club back to success.

“My analysis, and my concern in taking on the role, is not based on what’s happening off the field but based on what’s happening on the field – which tells me the turnaround of the club will be significant and very time-consuming for whichever individual takes on the role,” he told InDaily.

“Clubs exist to win premierships, not to serve corporate interests, and that’s why you have to start with what’s happening on the field.”

However, it’s likely Kelley read the tea-leaves after meetings with current board members reinforced their view that he was not part of their plans.

That’s likely to rankle with some supporters. Kelley’s bid had been backed by influential figures from the club’s history, including dual premiership ruckman Shaun Rehn.

InDaily contacted Rehn, who declined to comment but confirmed he supported Kelley’s bid.

Adelaide’s inaugural CEO and Rob Chapman’s predecessor as Chairman Bill Sanders also confirmed previously he had met with Kelley, saying: “I would have thought he’d be well qualified to advance his aspirations to join the board of the club.”

The Crows constitution allows only two member-elected directors, with the remaining seven appointed and ratified by the AFL.

It comes as the current board lost one of its most influential directors this week, with former businessman Jim McDowell – now CEO of the Marshall Government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet – standing aside, citing work pressures as he helps lead the state’s coronavirus response.

Sources have also suggested the pandemic had thrown up potential conflicts of interest, as the state’s AFL teams lobby the Transition Committee to facilitate the ongoing AFL season.

Premier Steven Marshall – whose department he runs – also chided the club this week, calling reports in The Age detailing the infamous 2018 preseason camp “quite disturbing”, and saying: “I think everybody who goes to any work environment should be safe from bullying or intimidation, so I think that there are some genuine concerns about what went on.”

McDowell, touted by some as a prospective replacement for Rob Chapman as chair, was replaced on the board by Warren Randall, Executive Chairman and Proprietor of Randall Wine Group which owns the Barossa Valley-based Seppeltsfield amongst other wine interests.

The Crows refused a request by InDaily to speak to Randall today.

The Randall Wine Group has links to the club, with former CEO Steven Trigg the group’s managing director.

Trigg was also brought in by Kelley to chair his 36ers advisory board, but his term expired in April and was not renewed.

Kelley said he did not know Randall personally “but I think with his industry connections and track record, I hope he’ll do a great job”.

“I’m a die-hard Crows fan – I hope he succeeds for the sake of the club,” he said.

The struggling Crows are set to appoint two more directors in the near future, with Chapman and his deputy Jim Hazel flagging their imminent departures.

An Advertiser article this week suggested former federal minister Christopher Pyne – whose lobbying firm GC Advisory has listed the club as a client – was on the shortlist, but he told InDaily: “I have not been approached by the AFC to serve on the board.”

He declined to comment on whether he would be interested in such an appointment.

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