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Sport Comment: The factors that may save Alan Richardson

01:33  14 june  2018
01:33  14 june  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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St Kilda coach Alan Richardson© AAP St Kilda coach Alan Richardson

While the position of Alan Richardson cannot be guaranteed next year given St Kilda's dismal performances, the senior coach’s chances of survival are bolstered by a number of factors, the most significant being his contract to coach the club in 2019 and 2020.

If the Saints sack Richardson, then it will cost them plenty, although the club is understood to have some ‘‘protection’’ – clauses that would not see them pay out two full years, as a lavish Essendon did for Matthew Knights back in 2010.

Richardson’s position is buttressed, too, by the view within the club that the club’s playing list is a greater concern – especially that oft-discussed lack of A-graders – than the coaching. This places pressure on the recruiting department and seems to have intensified the Saints’ desperation to land an out-of-contract player of note.

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Any OoC Updates will be posted on this page. So far there has been only one but there are sure to be more over the course of time. This post was made by the creator of the " Save Alan Richardson " ARG. It states the following: "Okay I think it's about time I revealed ALOT.

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Would the AFL, which has funded the Saints to levels approaching the Brisbane Lions and Greater Western Sydney, tolerate a pay-out to a senior coach? That’s unclear.

Obviously, there can be a point when the pay-out figure is matched or exceeded by the money a club thinks it might lose in membership etc., if it doesn’t remove the coach. It's possible that a loss to Gold Coast - given how poorly the Suns are faring - would represent another tipping point.

What seems clear is that this awful season will bring significant change at St Kilda, which must soon decide whether to embark upon a Richmond- or Collingwood-style review of the football operations.

Simon Lethlean.© Joe Armao Simon Lethlean. This is the logical step for the Saints, who, for all their fiscal and football woes, are well positioned to follow the models that have been established by Richmond and Collingwood, albeit they don’t have the talent to rebound as swiftly as those clubs. In Simon Lethlean, the club’s head of football, the Saints have someone on hand to run any full-bore review.

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The latest Tweets from Alan Richardson (@AlanRichardson). Senior Coach, St Kilda Football Club. Melbourne. Twitter may be over capacity or experiencing a momentary hiccup. Try again or visit Twitter Status for more information.

The majority of St Kilda’s assistant coaches are out of contract. This was the uncomfortable situation that the assistant coaches at Richmond (2016) and Collingwood (2017) encountered and it offers the Saints an alternative to ‘‘the Carlton model’’ of sacking the coach and paying him out (as the Blues have four times since 2002).

Richmond, like the Saints, had just extended their senior coach’s contract, moved on a few of the key assistants, a step that the club took in spite of Damien Hardwick’s wishes.

Collingwood was a touch gentler, although the Pies did eventually hire three new assistants – Justin Longmuir, Garry Hocking and Matthew Boyd – while making a number of changes in conditioning (removing the head man), recruiting (hiring a list manager above Derek Hine) and bringing back Nick Maxwell to run the the leadership programs. In all, 39 positions were changed within football, without massive casualties.

St Kilda, thus, can point to two recent examples of clubs that didn’t sack their coaches (and to Geelong in 2006) and which instead took a forensic approach to their flawed footy operations and found immediate improvement. If this would not satisfy all of the angry and absent supporters, the full review also happens to be overdue at St Kilda, which hasn’t done that kind of in-depth investigation into their footy failures since Scott Watters was sacked at the end of 2013.

The final factor in Richardson’s favour is the reality that if the club concludes he’s the wrong man, then the people who made the decision to reappoint him – which includes the club board – were wrong, too.

It is far easier for those decision-makers to change the people around the coach, as Collingwood and Richmond have shown.

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