NATHAN Buckley has relinquished his role as coach of Collingwood, acknowledging an “appetite for change” within the embattled AFL club.
The 48-year-old, who was due to come off contract at the end of the season, announced the decision with Magpies CEO Mark Anderson and football manager Graham Wright at a press conference on Wednesday morning.
Buckley will coach Collingwood for the final time in Monday’s traditional Queen’s Birthday clash with Melbourne before leaving his post after almost 10 years in the role.
“Over the last couple of weeks in conversations with Graham (Wright) it was clear that there was an appetite for change in the program, and I could sense that as well,” Buckley said.
“My messages, my manner and the way that I lead is established and we had a general sense that it was time for something different, it was time for something new and something fresh.
“This is the right time for the football club.
“I would’ve been happy to coach the year out if that’s what the club needed and wanted and we felt that’s what was best, but ultimately coaching this weekend and then stepping out is another opportunity for new growth, for new energies and new voices.
“That’s the opportunity that should happen as soon as that decision is made.”
Signed off by Collingwood hierarchy on Monday, the move comes after the club and Buckley had agreed they would leave a call on the coach’s future until the second half of the year.
Buckley’s removal comes amid an off-field battle for control of one of the competition’s biggest clubs, with former Nine Network managing director Jeff Browne mounting a challenge to the incumbent board led by president Mark Korda
It follows a turbulent trade period, the leaked Do Better report and long-time president Eddie McGuire’s resignation in February.
Despite the off-field turmoil, the Magpies entered the season chasing a fourth successive finals appearance – but now sit 16th with a 3-9 record.
Buckley in April said he was “energised” to continue coaching Collingwood beyond this season and last month said he was eager to lead the club’s “reset”.
But he now can’t commit for the long term.
“That change and regeneration is in the midst of happening and the question was whether I was up for it and whether the club viewed me as the longer term person to do it for the next three to five (years),” Buckley said.
“I can’t categorically say that I want to be here for the next five years, for instance.
“The candidate that the club end up looking for I think should be someone who has fresh eyes and fresh ideas for the group to help it pop again and to help it regenerate.
“Potentially when you’ve been in the seat for 10 years the mandate or the capacity to do that isn’t as great.”
The decision to replace Buckley ultimately fell on the shoulders of Anderson, Wright, football director Paul Licuria and board member Peter Murphy.
“I have had a part in the conversations. Nothing lasts forever, I was going to be tapped at some stage,” Buckley said.
“There’s no doubt that this is the best thing for the football club and I’ve always believed that that’s what should happen.”
Speaking to media outside Collingwood headquarters on Wednesday, captain Scott Pendlebury said assistant coach Robert Harvey will take the coaching reins on an interim basis from next week.
Pendlebury said he was in “shock” and feeling “numb” after learning Buckley’s tenure was ending.
AFL premiership coaches Alastair Clarkson and Chris Scott, as well as former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, are all possible targets as the Magpies’ next permanent coach.
(C) AAP 2021