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League steps in on Lions

Michael Whiting  September 20, 2013 12:12 PM

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AFL 2013 Media - AFL Essendon Sanctions Media Conference 270813

AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick

THE AFL Commission has stepped in to try and resolve the split Brisbane Lions board, with mediation meetings to be held at AFL House next Tuesday.

Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick has called together the AFL, the current Lions board - chaired by Angus Johnson - and the Leigh Matthews-led ticket attempting to overthrow him.

The Lions are in turmoil, with a split board, no coach, and a number of players wanting to leave the club.

Fitzpatrick said the AFL’s high-level intervention was designed to achieve a timely outcome in the best long-term interests of the club, its members and supporters.

"The AFL’s preference was for this matter to be resolved internally through negotiation and compromise, but this hope appears to have receded in recent times," Fitzpatrick said.

"It is crucial that the club’s leadership and direction is settled as quickly as possible to provide the Lions with stability at a time when it is actively planning for the 2014 season and beyond, including the appointment of a senior coach and the development of new facilities.

"As the Lions sign or re-sign key players, recruit members and seek out corporate support, they need a board that is pursuing a clear and united vision for the club."

Troubles at the Lions began the moment they sacked favourite son Michael Voss as coach on August 13.
Although the decision was unanimous, board members Paul Williams and Mick Power felt chairman Angus Johnson "bungled" the subsequent attempt to lure then-available Paul Roos.
Williams and Power enticed Lions triple premiership coach Matthews onto a rival ticket in an attempt to overthrow Johnson.
Members have also voiced their displeasure with the situation.
More than 800 full-voting members submitted a form to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting in an attempt to speed up the conflict.
Papers were lodged with the club last Friday and a date for the EGM has yet to be called.
In the meantime Johnson has continued to lead the club through a tumultuous period that sees it still without a coach and with three players – Jared Polec, Elliot Yeo and Patrick Karnezis – who have asked to be traded along with rumblings of others wishing to leave.
Members have also grumbled during the year about the lack of consultation on the club's guernsey.
Their feedback has now been sought through a dedicated survey.

Fitzpatrick said the AFL would bring the parties together in an effort to mediate an outcome without the need for an EGM.

"It is the AFL’s belief that the interests of Lions members and supporters are best served by resolving the board dispute as quickly as possible to enable the Lions’ sole focus to be on strengthening the club and its prospects for success, both on and off the field," he said.

In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the Lions said they welcomed the mediation process.
"The club recognises the importance of stability and is keen to see the matter resolved ASAP," the statement said.
"The club also recognises the interests of its members are best served by resolving the board dispute quickly in order for its sole focus to return to strengthening the club on and off the field."

Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting