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Chapman ready to hand over Crows' baton

Football

Rob Chapman has watched his last AFL game as Adelaide Football Club chairman. He told Michelangelo Rucci his much-guessed and yet-to-be-revealed successor has been chosen from a very small field.

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Rob Chapman saw his last Crows game as chairman on Saturday, and has pencilled his last board meeting at the Adelaide Football Club for Wednesday, November 18.

He will then hand control of South Australia’s biggest sporting club to a person Chapman describes as “better than me”.

“Someone who is exceptional – someone who has experience, gravitas, worldliness and everyone will trust,” Chapman told InDaily, to dispel the image cast by so many high-profile people distancing themselves from the Crows leadership role.

“The greatest legacy you can leave is putting someone in your chair who is better than you. Of this, I am 100 per cent comfortable.”

Chapman expects his successor – who will be just the fifth chairman since the club was founded in 1990 – to be announced next month, earlier rather than later in October.

The guessing game has included former AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson, Glenelg premiership hero and current president Peter Carey, former Crows board member Peter Hurley, reluctant former player David Pittman, eager but rebuffed Sixers basketball owner Grant Kelley and former federal minister Christopher Pyne.

In the past fortnight, the list has included former Glenelg president Nick Chigwidden.

“I’ve not had any chats (with the Adelaide Football Club),” Chigwidden told InDaily. “And it is not something that interests me; it is a bloody big job,” added Chigwidden, who remains on the Glenelg board.

Still highly touted is former Sturt league player and banker Jamie McPhee, who is a noted Carlton fan.

Chapman says the real field was tight – and heavily influenced by the eventual successor needing to have both the skill set and time to lead an AFL club.

“In my mind, there were two or three people who could do it – and would do it,” said Chapman of a role that comes with no pay, demands as many as 70 hours a week from the chairman and draws significant public scrutiny.

Chapman will leave the Adelaide Football Club after 15 years on the board – “half of the club’s time in the competition,” he says – and three seasons more than originally planned. The first succession plan – to abdicate to vice-chairman Bob Foord after the 2017 AFL grand final loss to Richmond – was denied by Foord’s death by a heart attack in December 2017.

Chapman declared he would be on-hand for his successor just as “Bob Hammond and Bill Sanders were for me”.

“I will always be there – but I will not be getting in the way,” Chapman said. “I will not be heard.”

Chapman leaves the club after its most difficult season, by the COVID pandemic and the on-field failings that have delivered the club’s first AFL wooden spoon with a 3-14 win-loss count this season.

Adelaide did finish with three consecutive wins against Hawthorn, Greater Western Sydney and Carlton that were bookended with competitive showings against Geelong and, at the weekend, defending premier Richmond at Adelaide Oval.

“I sat there very relaxed, genuinely relaxed,” Chapman said of his emotions on Saturday afternoon. “It has been a tough year for all sorts of reasons. I thought it would be challenging, but it became tougher and for much more than the usual challenges you get in football.

“In the end, we can see it is all coming together – new coach, new squad and in the past four-to-five weeks we can see it will work. We have a bloody good plan on our table; we have very good people to execute it. The finish to the season is reassuring.”

Chapman will use his new-found time to “reacquaint with family, the golf course, fishing spots and to my work at my office – and I guarantee I am looking forward to that as well.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Adelaide Football Club; it has been a privilege,” Chapman said. “It did come with its challenges. That is why boards exist – to deal with those challenges by drawing on the experiences we have gleaned from other careers and life.

“We set the course, guiding management. You make mistakes; as a board we are there to make sure those mistakes are not repeated.”

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