When it became clear that Richardson’s contract would not be extended into 2020 and beyond, the decision to part ways was made late on Monday after discussions also involving Saints CEO Matt Finnis and board members.
The players were informed on Tuesday morning, three days after the 15th-placed Saints lost by 27 points to Geelong, ending any mathematical chance they had of qualifying for the finals.
Former Carlton head coach and Saints assistant Brett Ratten has been appointed caretaker coach for the remainder of the 2019 campaign, with former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott the clear favourite to get the job on a permanent basis.
Richardson replaced Scott Watters before the 2014 season but was unable to lift the Saints back into the finals during his time at the helm.
The club started the 2019 season brightly with four wins from their opening five matches before tailing off.
Richardson’s task this year was made more difficult by long-term injuries to key players including Jake Carlisle, Jarryn Geary, Paddy McCartin, Dan Hannebery and Dylan Roberton, and multiple best-and-fairest winner Jack Steven’s battle with mental health issues.
Richardson said he was proud at the way he and the club had dealt with setbacks.
“But there is certainly a disappointment in the fact that you can’t finish things off,” he told reporters.
“It’s not a job; it’s a journey.
“You’re here to win a flag, you’re here first of all to give yourself the opportunity and we haven’t done that.
” … there’s just a reality to it that you come into this business knowing that if you don’t win often enough then things will change and the senior coach is responsible for that.”
President Andrew Bassat praised Richardson’s selflessness in agreeing to step aside “and allow the club the time and space to find the next coach”.
“There is no escaping the significant setbacks we have faced this year in regards to player availability, and these, as you would expect, have been taken into account in our decision,” Bassat said.
“Ultimately, after six years under Alan’s leadership, the team performance and the position in which we find ourselves isn’t where it needs to be.
“This responsibility doesn’t just rest with the senior coach, and indeed we feel that the performance of Alan and the rest of the coaching group in adverse circumstances this year is to be commended.
“However, after significant consideration, we believe the time is right to introduce a new voice to oversee the next stage in our development and drive us forward.”
Carlton and North Melbourne are also searching for new coaches after parting ways with Brendon Bolton and Scott respectively.
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