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Former AFL boss, hotel magnate spurn Crows board - but Jackson "keen to help"


EXCLUSIVE | Former AFL boss Wayne Jackson says he’s “keen to help” the struggling Adelaide Crows as an advisory role looms – but, like other big names being touted, including a hotel magnate and a SANFL great, he’s rebuffed approaches to replace Rob Chapman at the helm of the board, reports Michelangelo Rucci.

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Hotelier Peter Hurley is ignoring overtures to return to the Adelaide Football Club as its new chairman – a role now strongly linked to the equally reluctant SA football great Peter Carey.

Hurley confirmed to InDaily he had been approached to make a comeback to the Adelaide board as its new leader, replacing Rob Chapman.

“People have spoken to me, but no … I don’t think I would solve the problem for the club,” said Hurley, a board member from 2000-2014.

Hurley is touted by the “old guard” in SA football to serve a three-year term, leading the club in an on- and off-field rebuild that would include a well-defined succession plan in the boardroom.

“Even if I was interested, that would smack of the boys’ club – and the Adelaide Football Club does not need that,” said Hurley, now a board member of the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority.

“(The choice of chairman) needs to be saleable to the punters. There are more suitable people – and I am sure the club has those people in mind and that change will happen, certainly before the AGM next year.”

Carey at the weekend was strongly linked to the chairman’s role that is to be vacated by Chapman in October amid a major refit of the club’s administration.

But the 66-year-old Glenelg Football Club president has told InDaily: “No, I feel that role is past me … it is beyond me now.

“It is a massive job – and it needs someone who has a lot of time on their hands and for someone who is at the right stage of their life. That is not me.”

Carey, the 448-game premiership hero at Glenelg, feels well-briefed on the demands of the Adelaide Football Club chairmanship by his friendship with Chapman, his midweek golf partner.

“Some weeks require a time commitment of 40 hours,” Carey said. “I want to do other things with my time – travel and spend that time with my grandchildren.

“My time in football is now with Glenelg,” added the former SA Football Commission member. “I am passionate about my role as president at the Glenelg Football Club and love working with the people there.”

Carey has distanced himself from the Adelaide Football Club boardroom reshuffle that will put three new directors in control of the Crows by season’s end – to replace Chapman, vice-chairman Jim Hazel and already departed director Jim McDowell who seat is taken by Seppeltsfield wine baron Warren Randall.

Carey and former AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson are the most-mentioned contenders to replace Chapman, the Crows chairman since 2009.

Asked whether he had been approached for a board role, 76-year-old Jackson – who led the league from 1996 to 2003 – told InDaily his answer to any question on following Chapman as the fourth chairman at the Adelaide Football Club would be met with a “no comment”.

“I have taken a lot of calls – and my answer is no comment so that no-one will read anything into that,” Jackson said.

However, he added an intriguing caveat: “I would be keen to help the Crows within the constraints of family and business responsibilities.”

Jackson, a one-time West Torrens footballer, has previously assisted the club, sitting as the independent member of the panel that selected Neil Craig as coach in 2004.

It’s believed he sees the club’s on-field rebuild as a long-term prospect – and the job overseeing it unsuited to someone already approaching their late 70s – but is happy to play a role in the short-term.

Chapman conceded he had “sounded [Jackson] out on a couple of things to help the club – of which he’s more than willing”.

“He rules himself out for being on the board [but] there are a couple of other ways of assisting us,” he told InDaily.

“He knows the AFL, knows his football and is widely respected – he’s a good man.”

Asked to confirm he had already identified a successor, Chapman said he had “a long list of people that have been on my radar over the past few years” and would be narrowing it down “over the next several months”.

“I’ve got the options there – I’m completely comfortable we’re going to find the right person,” he said.

“A choice of one is never a choice – so there are options.”

SA football powerbrokers and the Crows “old guard” – led by former chairman and inaugural chief executive Bill Sanders – sense the Adelaide Football Club might need to return to the past before it can find a new future direction.

Former Crows and Carlton chief executive Steven Trigg has ruled out a return to West Lakes, as first revealed at InDaily last Thursday. He is currently managing director at Seppeltsfield Wines, answering to new Crows board member Warren Randall.

The club’s inaugural coach Graham Cornes has been touted by some in the media as a board option, but he says he’s had “no official approach” and did not believe his “skill-set” would be suited to such a role. Insiders note he is also a prominent media commentator, a potential conflict that has proven a distraction for current board member and football director Mark Ricciuto.

Retired federal Liberal minister Christopher Pyne has also been linked to a board role – with both Chapman and his deputy Jim Hazel headed for the exit – although he maintains he is yet to be approached.

Pyne’s advisory firm GC Advisory lists the Adelaide Football Club as a client on the SA Lobbyists’ Register, and it’s believed he shares an office space with Chapman and Hazel.

In a forthcoming FIVEaa podcast, he tells Cornes he is “a good friend of Rob Chapman’s and Jim Hazel’s, [as well as fellow board member and former Labor minister] Kate Ellis and many of the people on the board”.

“I haven’t been approached to be the chairman of the Adelaide Crows,” he said.

“The speculation is flattering, but I’m happy to serve at the pleasure of the board if they choose that path down the track… there’s no hurry.”

Read InDaily tomorrow for more from Michelangelo Rucci about the Adelaide Football Club’s board machinations. 

– additional reporting by Tom Richardson

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