Former Essendon chairman David Evans returned to the club early on Monday in his first official visit to the completed $27 million training base that was the legacy of his presidency.
The significant Evans visit was part of a power breakfast meeting of former Bombers presidents. Paul Little, who is expected to step down by the end of the year, did not attend the talks. Nor did former Federal finance minister Lindsay Tanner who was at another meeting at the club on Monday and who looks certain to replace Little.
Club chief Xavier Campbell has communicated to Essendon powerbrokers that the club hoped to secure John Worsfold as coach over the coming week as the Bombers move to restructure their football department following the departure of James Hird. Worsfold now looks certain to be appointed Essendon’s senior coach after announcing his departure from the Crows on Tuesday
Campbell summoned the ex-presidents as part of a new long-term strategy to rebuild the club and its brand and redefine the Essendon heritage after three damaging and scandal-ridden seasons in the wake of the Bombers’ 2012 drugs program.
Although Evans first established the annual meetings of former chairmen he has not attended any such talks since leaving the club.
The Monday breakfast was one of a series of scheduled meetings by Campbell with club stakeholders which includes the past players, club members, the cheer squad along with ongoing meetings with players’ parents and families.
Fairfax Media understands the Bombers hope to advance talks with Worsfold this week following Adelaide’s season-ending loss last weekend. The former West Coast premiership coach, who has already envisaged returning to coaching and putting together a coaching team, has spoken with a number of potential assistants including Guy McKenna. But the Bombers have flatly denied yet offering him the job and have refuted reports of a tabled five-year deal for Worsfold.
Evans’ attendance at the Monday meeting was seen as pivotal to the marking of a new and positive chapter for Essendon. Previously closely aligned both professionally and personally to Hird before the then coach turned on his old friend, Evans quit the presidency in dramatic circumstances in August 2013. His departure followed a group of directors including Little questioning the club’s strategy in dealing with the AFL and ASADA at the time.
Campbell told the attending former chairmen - who included Greg Sewell, Neil McKissock and Ray Horsburgh - that he and the club hoped to defer to them for advice over various issues. Of the living recent club presidents only David Shaw did not attend due to another commitment.
Essendon plans to move to secure its financial future with the purchase a large block of land adjoining the True Value Solar Centre and transform it into a multi-purpose venue including apartments and offices. Evans put forward some suggestions regarding the potential multi-million dollar investment.
Mark Harvey is contracted for next season and is expected to stay at Essendon in a mooted Worsfold team along with Mark Neeld and recent caretaker coach Matthew Egan. With Neil Craig in talks with Carlton, the futures of list manager Rob Kerr and recruiter Adrian Dodoro remain unclear.