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Crows appoint SANFL 'innovator' as football boss


SANFL football boss Adam Kelly has been confirmed for the Adelaide Crows’ key vacant off-field role, replacing the axed Brett Burton as head of football.

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The Crows today confirmed Kelly, a qualified Certified Practicing Accountant who has served as the state league’s General Manager of Football for the past five years, would run the Adelaide football department as the club seeks to rebuild after a post-season cleanout.

That included senior coach Don Pyke, replaced by former Port and GWS offsider Matthew Nicks. Burton and senior assistant coach Scott Camporeale were both cut adrift, with several senior players also departing.

Kelly, 45, has a Masters in Sports Management and has completed short courses at Harvard and Melbourne Business Schools and Latrobe University. He has worked as CEO of the East Fremantle Football Club and head of Country Racing Victoria’s Murray Mallee Racing.

“The further I went into the [Crows] recruitment process, the eagerness grew as a result of being able to interact with numerous people, all of whom impressed me with their passion, drive and desire to take the Club forward,” Kelly said in a statement.

The Crows heralded his “extensive leadership and strategic and operational management experience”, with CEO Andrew Fagan insisting he was “the standout candidate after a lengthy recruitment and due diligence process”.

“Adam is a values-driven leader who has clearly demonstrated that he can positively influence large teams of people in both a club and governing body environment,” Fagan said in a statement.

“This was critically important to us.

“While undertaking our due diligence, it was evident he takes an organisation-first approach to decision-making and also has a deep understanding of the necessary components required to succeed in this role.”

Fagan said the club was “impressed with his long-term commitment to learning and personal development”, including “AFL-specific education such as Football Operations and List Management, and Executive Leadership programs”.


“Importantly, we feel his combination of personal qualities, skills, qualifications and experiences are well suited to the football program and environment we are developing under a new senior coach,” he said.

Kelly has spoken of his business philosophies in a 2018 interview with Torrens University’s Business Blog, telling the site: “I engage with colleagues across Australia, sharing experiences and breaking news – my network is diverse, which keeps me ahead of the trend in business and sports management.”

Asked to nominate his best career or life advice, he said: “My grandfather used to often say a job worth doing is a job worth doing well… to me it speaks to effort, standards and quality, and personal pride in what you are doing.”

“The second comes from my Pop – it is always nice to meet nice people,” Kelly told the blog.

“This taught me to acknowledge the good people that you get to interact with and let them know that they are appreciated and to example this in my interactions with others.

“Finally, don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions. My first employer challenged me with this statement early in my working career and it has stuck with me throughout.

“On balance, I think it is harder to find solutions people and that makes them really valuable when you find them.”

SANFL CEO Jake Parkinson said Kelly had made “a significant impact at SANFL and on football in SA with his engaging manner, strong work ethic, innovative thinking and passion for the game”.

“Adam has brought to SANFL a breadth of experience which drove him to challenge traditional thinking where required and, importantly, connect to the many and varied people across football,” he said.

“Adam has been a strong advocate for football at all levels in South Australia, including the SANFL clubs and League… he has helped to maintain our competition as the best State League of any sport in Australia.

“We have no doubt he will deliver a highly successful football department at the Adelaide Football Club.”

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