Top Saint: ‘No blood on our hands’ over Richo
St Kilda president Andrew Bassat is adamant no one at the Saints has blood on their hands after the departure of Alan Richardson.
New president Bassat stressed Richardson was not pushed because the club had a new coach ready to fill the role.
Asked if any senior staff had blood on their hands, Bassat said: "Not that I know."
"That's not an organisation I want to be involved in if that sort of stuff's going on," Bassat said.
"If you know of blood on anyone's hands, let me know.''
Bassat, who returns from Greece tomorrow, and chief executive Matt Finnis spoke to Richardson on Monday, when the six-year coach tended his resignation.
It came after talks between Richardson and Finnis about the coach's future ramped up after the loss to North Melbourne in Hobart in Round 16.
Bassat said the club treated Richardson with care and respect.
"As a football club and as a board, everything I have seen has been a decent, fair and respectable debate,'' he said.
"I think Matt sets the tone and has set the tone by just being a good human being.
"I think the people we've got on the board now are decent people.
"I haven't been involved in any decisions that haven't cared about people or the football club or what's right for the club.''
Bassat, Finnis and football boss Simon Lethlean will form part of the recruiting group which selects the next coach.
Bassat said speculation linking Lethlean to Richardson's departure - and potential recruitment of Brad Scott to be coach - was unfair.
"Simon backed Richo in last year,'' he said.
"Richo won four games last year and Simon backed him and strongly put a team around him."
He said Lethlean had power at the club, but his opinions did not hold sway on every decision.
"Simon has a strong degree of powers, there's no doubt he's been a strong voice and an effective voice at the club and led a lot of change that we think has been helpful,'' Bassat said.
"I think as head of football you want some strong people to make decisions.
"I think Simon does not hold sway on every decision.
"Matt's also a strong voice and I can also be a strong voice when I need to be.
"On something like the coach, which is I think what you are alluding to, Simon will be a stable voice, and an important voice. But he certainly won't be the only voice.''
He described Richardson as a "great human being''.
"He couldn't have been more reasonable and decent thought this process in terms of understanding and accepting,'' Bassat said.
He said the decision on who would be the next coach was "massive".
"We're a long way off where we need to be as a football club, and our ambition is to win our second flag and so we can't expect for everyone at the organisation who is there today to improve by five per cent year on year and somehow we're magically going to close that gap,'' he said.
"We need to change up personnel, we need to take some risks.
"The new appointment is absolutely massive.
"I'm doing this for one reason and one reason only, I love the club and I want it to be successful.
"If we don't get this next decision right, I think my presidency will appear to be a failure. As of many before me.
"We're absolutely aware, this is one of the most critical decisions we will make as a football club.
"And in the past you're right, there's been poor decisions made that have in part contributed to where we are as a football club.
"All we can do is make the right decisions going forward and we're really determined to get this right.''
NO DECISION ON NEW COACH YET
St Kilda has denied former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has the inside running on its vacant job because of his friendship with footy boss Simon Lethlean.
Scott has been strongly linked to the Saints position for 2020 even before he stepped away from the Kangaroos' senior position in Round 10.
But chief executive Matt Finnis yesterday said Scott did not already have the job in the bag and that the club would run a "rigorous" process to find its next coach.
"I haven't spoken to Brad and perhaps I'll address that because I'm obviously aware of the reports," Finnis said.
"The reality this is a critical decision for our football club.
"Any suggestions that those kinds of decisions get made on the basis of a friendship or a connection should just be disregarded."
The Saints have the second-longest premiership drought in the game dating back to its only flag in 1966.
Finnis was optimistic about the talent on the list and said the job was an attractive one as the Saints compete with Carlton and North Melbourne to select the best candidate.
He said the club's 53-year wait for its second flag had created a "razor-sharp" focus towards securing more silverware.
"We have got a very appealing role to be filled in coming weeks. I think the person who is ultimately successful will come in here and pick up an enthusiastic young list with room for growth," he said.
"(They will have) the support of a football club which is investing in its football program and ultimately the opportunity, as Allan Jeans would say, to secure immortality by delivering that second flag to St Kilda."
Finnis said the Saints would use the upcoming exchange period to add to a core group of emerging talent. He said the squad was better than many thought.
"I think what we've seen at times this year is that our list can perform better than the outside world rate it," he said.
"I think that we've still got to build elite talent and we'll aggressively pursue that through trade and free agency and whatever list management opportunities that can come.
"We also believe we have the nucleus of a young list there which can take our club forward."
THE BIG FISH
ALASTAIR CLARKSON AND LUKE BEVERIDGE
We all know Clarko's name is at the very top of the list for any AFL club when looking for a new coach. The Hawthorn supercoach recently told his players he's not going to Carlton, but surely St Kilda will put a call in to Clarko. The worst he can say is no. And then there's Luke Beveridge. He has a connection to St Kilda and it would be a huge get for the Saints if they were able to nab the 2016 premiership coach.
THE TOP CONTENDERS
Scott is the odds-on favourite to win the job. Helped North Melbourne punch above its weight for a decade, making two preliminary finals with a modest list. Has shown he can develop a list and has a close relationship with the powerful Simon Lethlean.
In terms of former senior coaches primed for a second coming at a new club, Voss would be close to the top of the tree. Made some well documented mistakes at Brisbane and paid the price for it, but has spent five years at Port Adelaide riding shotgun for Ken Hinkley. Will be spoken to.
Sacked by Carlton as senior coach in 2012, Blues great Ratten has been lauded for his work as an assistant at St Kilda this year on the back of a long stint at Hawthorn. He now takes over as interim coach for the remainder of the season. Will he follow in the footsteps of Rhyce Shaw and David Teague by putting forward a strong case to take the job permanently? A strong chance with good reason.
THE SPECTRE OF ROOS
The talk is getting louder that Roos is angling for a role somewhere. He would be well worth at least a phone call for the Saints. Roos may not want a senior role, but he could be the perfect man to sit above a younger coach to help oversee the overall direction.
SURELY NOT, COULD THEY?
The odds may be the same as winning Division 1 lotto, but could we see ROSS LYON return to Moorabbin? His sudden departure to Fremantle at the end of 2011 shocked the football world and left a lot of noses out of joint. Although, the facts are he exited St Kilda with the best winning percentage of any Saints coach in the club's history and became the first person to coach the club to four consecutive finals series.
THE FAVOURITE SON - ROBERT HARVEY
Lyon recently gave Robert Harvey a huge endorsement, saying he was ready for a senior coaching role and was able to have "the hard conversation". Has worked closely with Collingwood's midfield and is rated for his tactical nous. A St Kilda favourite son.
AND DON'T FORGET
Ben Rutten, Sam Mitchell, John Barker, Lenny Hayes, Matthew Nicks, Brendon Lade and Matthew Scarlett. David Teague, as well, if the Blues don't back him in. Ditto Rhyce Shaw, but surely he is over the line at the Kangas.