Jeff Browne wants to be president of Collingwood. This much he has told us.
He wants to bring with him three other board members but has not said who. He wants four of the current board to go but has not said which ones.
Gloves off at Collingwood: Mark Korda (left) and Jeff Browne are at loggerheads over the presidency and board.Credit:The Age
In what he has crafted as an olive branch to the current board to try to avoid a bloody election, Browne has said he would wish to keep a few of the current board and bring in just a few of his own people.
The board will on Wednesday unanimously reject this proposal in a declaration signed by each member.
Browne will then be forced to find not just three fellow board members but an entire ticket. He may already have a ticket ready to go and is waiting on their response before declaring who is on his ticket. But he has not said so. There is much he has yet to say.
One can assume he would have wanted to keep Jodie Sizer if he could. It would be astounding if after the Do Better report and revelations of systemic racism at the club that he would not wish to retain the club’s first Indigenous woman – indeed, first Indigenous person – on the board.
But Sizer has signed, along with the other board members, her commitment to the current board. As has Paul Licuria whom it might also be assumed that Browne would wish to keep with him on the board if for no other reason than Licuria would be popular with members at the polls and would be likely to secure a place on a board at any election he fought.
Who the third person is he would want to keep is debatable but it would be expected he would want to keep Christine Holgate on the board to at the very least maintain a female balance.
This is now moot because the board will say they reject his offer to carve out several from their pack and be replaced by him and his choices.
In the current environment Browne’s ticket would be expected to need to include several female and at least one Indigenous candidate.
But what Browne wants to do to fix things at the club is undeclared.
The most pressing issue and the one that is in the thoughts of all fans is the football question: does he want to keep Nathan Buckley as coach or not?
What to do with Buckley and the football department is the biggest question not only for a Browne ticket but for the current board.
Sources suggest Browne would change the coach but until stated by him this is conjecture.
Given the obvious uncertainty around the coach’s tenure, the support for Browne by Craig Kelly, who is Buckley’s and for that matter assistant coach Robert Harvey’s manager, is all the more intriguing.
It would also be interesting where it would position Browne as an agent for change if the current board announced it was not going to renew Buckley. Presumably in that event Browne would push that the current board could not be trusted with choosing Buckley’s replacement.
But where does Browne stand on other significant club matters like the Do Better report and its recommendations? And on women’s football?
These might not be the issues consuming the minds of voting members enduring the misery of watching their impotent third-bottom side lose each week but they do occupy the minds of new long-term partner Nike with their commitment not only to more than a million dollars a year to the club, but also their global commitment to Black Lives Matter and female sport.
And they occupy the minds of sponsor CGU who endured some doubtful moments over their relationship with the club at the start of the year. And La Trobe Financial’s head only last week warned against board wars.
That said, if you consider the extraordinary catalogue of events that have gone on at Collingwood in a disastrous year on and off the field since the siren went in Perth to win the elimination final last year, it is unsurprising there is a foment for leadership change at the club.
What Browne has declared is that he feels the pain and he wants to lead the change. That sentiment alone might be enough to have his ticket elected. He is clearly hoping it is, because all he has said so far is that he wants to be president but not what he would do or who would be with him.
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