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Crows boss at arm's length as Pavlich knuckles down on review

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Crows chairman Rob Chapman says the club’s board is aware of his business history with former Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich, including that he has co-owned a racehorse called ‘Go The Knuckle’ with one of the four men contracted to conduct an external review of Adelaide’s football operations.

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Pavlich, a former president of the AFL Players’ Association, was last week announced as a panellist overseeing the Crows’ much-hyped independent review, alongside Hawthorn legend Jason Dunstall, high-performance expert Tim Gabbett and leadership and performance psychologist Jonah Oliver.

The review will focus on “on-field performance, including coaching, leadership, development, environment, high performance and list management”, rather than the club’s administration or board, which Chapman told InDaily today was subject to its own review in June, conducted by corporate governance advisor Kate Costello.

“Over a couple of board meetings we discussed some of the suggestions – there were a few things raised that we’ve implemented,” he said.

Chapman says the board appointed the four panellists for the football department review, saying: “Absolutely, this is a review for the board essentially.”

He said CEO Andrew Fagan would “be that common link between all four of the externals [panellists]” and was “sitting in a lot of – but not all of – the meetings, just so we get a consistent theme, a consistent view, of what’s going on”.

Chapman said the review will report back to the board within weeks, “in the form of a written report [but] I’m expecting that the four guys will all come in and verbalise that”.

“We want to do this review quickly,” he said.

But the former Bank SA and St George Bank boss insisted there was no issue about his business history with Pavlich, with the pair having co-invested – along with two others – in a racehorse named ‘Go The Knuckle’, with the website Minervini Racing stating the galloper was purchased in 2010 at the Adelaide Magic Millions Sale for $47,000 from the draft of Gerry Harvey’s Baramul Stud.

Chapman is also “a passive investor” in Pavlich’s sports-talent-booking agency Pickstar, which the six-time All-Australian founded with former Crows player James Begley in 2013.

“I’ve known Matthew for a little while,” Chapman told InDaily, noting that he and Pavlich both went to the same school – Sacred Heart – albeit “20 years apart”.

“The idea to use Matthew [for the review] came directly from Andrew Fagan and I said I think that makes eminently good sense.”

He said Fagan suggested Pavlich’s appointment “for all the right reasons”, citing his leadership experience and role with the AFLPA, as well as the knowledge gleaned as captain of a football club and understanding of players’ “relationship with a coach”.

“We thought he had the right skill set,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to Matthew and Jason once – I told them they have whatever resources they want and I told them this is in no way a PR exercise… I want this to be a genuinely conducted review.

“Once I’ve had those conversations with them, I’ll not speak to them again.”

He said when Fagan suggested appointing Pavlich to the paid role, “one thing I said [was] ‘You know I know Matthew’.”

“I have a business dealing with him… that’s been declared and the board knows that,” he said.

“As with everything in this world, between Roo [board member Mark Ricciuto], myself, Andrew Fagan… you know everyone in football. If you were to rule out everyone you know, you wouldn’t have many to choose from.”

He said he and Pavlich were not friends outside their shared business interests, noting: “I’ve never been to his place for a barbecue, he’s never been to my place… our families don’t know each other”.

“I’ve owned horses with literally thousands of people – which means I’ve wasted a lot of money,” he said, insisting any connection between the joint venture and the current review would be a “very tenuous link to make”.

Nonetheless, he said he would be at arm’s length from the review, unless required to be interviewed by the panel.

“I’ve got nothing to do with the review [and] I’m not going to talk to him through the course of this review – I’ve spoken to him once, I’ve spoken to Jason once… I’ll not talk to either again,” he said.

He said all the panellists were capable of navigating any perceived conflicts, with media reports already raising questions about Dunstall and Pavlich’s broadcasting commitments.

“We’re all big boys,” Chapman said.

All four will be paid for their roles, with Chapman saying “we want to compensate them for their time and effort [and] we’ll get the best result by paying the best people”.

The uniquely “Adelaide” nature of the Crows’ woes have already been evident in recent days, with The Australian newspaper running a front-page story last week declaring forward Eddie Betts was set to depart SA for Carlton, penned by veteran reporter David Penberthy – who is listed on the Crows’ website as a club ambassador and is married to board member and former Sports Minister Kate Ellis. The theme continued with Chapman today discussing the football department review on ABC Radio Adelaide, in an interview with presenter Ali Clarke, whose husband is assistant coach Matthew Clarke.

Chapman says the Crows “generally review every aspect of the club” and would continue to do so, but the external analysis would be “essentially focussed on football, although there will be links back into management and board”.

“It’s essentially how to improve performance in the football department,” he said.

A spokesman said the club expected to have “a clear understanding of any possibly changes to people, systems or structures prior to the completion of the finals series”, although any announcements might be left until after the Grand Final.

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