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Crows director resigns over vax mandate

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UPDATED | Adelaide Crows board member Nick Takos has resigned after a standoff with the club over its vaccination mandate.

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InDaily exclusively revealed last week that Takos, who was elected as a club director by members last year, had taken issue with a club rule that all staff should be fully vaccinated, following on from an AFL ‘no job, no play’ decree for all players and football department employees.

“With great disappointment I announce my resignation from the Board of Directors at the Adelaide Football Club,” Takos said in a statement today.

“The AFL’s COVID mandate, and the club’s deeply concerning response to it, has left me with no choice but to step down.”

The Crows have been bedevilled by dramas related to the vaccination mandate, with AFLW premiership player Deni Varnhagen placed on the club’s inactive list after refusing to be COVID-vaccinated.

Last week, a Crows SANFL-listed player was hospitalised two days after receiving his first dose of the mRNA vaccine, although it’s understood the symptoms have not been definitively linked to the jab.

In his statement, Takos – a former long-serving Adelaide Football Club staff member who now lectures on sports leadership and organisational culture at the UniSA business school – said he was “passionate about the Crows and I have invested 21 years of service in one form or another to the club”.

“I understand the challenging position that the board is in,” he said.

“That said, I have made my position to the board clear that while I am not anti-vaccination generally, corporations should not tell their staff and footy fans what medical treatment is good for them through a mandatory vaccination policy.”

He said he had also been “increasingly concerned following news that one of Adelaide’s SANFL players has been diagnosed with pericarditis, a serious heart condition” after taking the COVID vaccination “at the direction of the AFL and club”.

“Based on this, I called a special board meeting to urgently discuss the player’s condition, the health and safety of all of our players and other associated risks,” he said.

“It was clear the board was immovable on this issue and key, reasonable questions are yet to be answered.”

He said these included whether the club had taken steps to review its vaccination policy and potential impacts on liability insurance.

“I cannot support a coercive and forceful policy that does not consider the proportionate risk to players and staff,” Takos said.

“As a Member Elected Director, I cannot support a policy that unfairly discriminates against our highly diverse 60,000 members and over 650,000 fans who have a wide range of personal and medical considerations when it comes to vaccination.”

The Crows initially declined to comment as the club had yet to receive a formal letter of resignation from Takos this morning – although it’s understood one was sent before he made his public statement.

However, in a later statement shortly before 3pm the club confirmed Takos’s resignation.

“Takos is not willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 which puts him in breach of the Club’s vaccination policy, and he is unable to fulfil his obligations,” a club statement said.

Crows Chairman John Olsen said discussions had taken place with Takos “over a number of weeks”.

“We have a duty of care to all associated with the club and therefore we developed a COVID-19 vaccination policy to ensure there were appropriate health and safety requirements to protect our people and the wider community,” Olsen said in a statement.

“As a Director, you are obligated to attend meetings at the club’s headquarters and Adelaide Oval, as well as games and other events where players, coaches, staff and corporate partners are in attendance, and Nick is no longer in a position to do so.”

The Crows will fill the board vacancy “when the club conducts its annual nomination and election process for Member-elected Directors early next year”, with two positions to be filled.

Incumbent Rod Jameson’s two-year term will conclude however he has indicated he will renominate.

It’s understood there is angst within the club that Takos’s statement referred to a player’s private medical details without him being aware of the specific circumstances.

Takos said the AFL’s decision to “enforce its edict” left him with “the only option available to fall into line at the expense of my personal (private) medical circumstances, including my unique health conditions which have been deemed significant by my specialists, and supported by my cardiologist in a request to the club for a medical exemption (which has been denied)”.

“I cannot agree to the imposition of that corporate edict on my health, values and convictions, and those of other staff, players and members, despite the personal cost,” he said.

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