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Buckley bemoans Pies losing Balme to Tigers

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10: Magpies Football Director Neil Balme addresses the media during a Collingwood Magpies press conference at the Westpac Centre, Melbourne on August 10, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Neil Balme has been appointed Richmond's new football boss

COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley has expressed his disappointment at Neil Balme's decision to join Richmond, but supports the respected administrator's call.

The Tigers announced a host of changes on Monday following their extensive football department review, appointing Balme as their new general manager of football. 

Buckley said he formed a close bond with Balme and wanted the 64-year-old to remain at the Magpies. 

"I am (disappointed) because I enjoy 'Balmey'. I think he's a great football person … he's played a really important role for us over the last couple of years and for me personally," Buckley told Fox Footy on Monday night.

"We're in much better shape as a footy department than we were when he came in, and like you'd hope to see whenever your time comes, he'll leave us in a better place than (when) he came in. 

"Selfishly, I wanted him to stay on but I can understand the reasons for him taking the next opportunity." 

Balme, who rejoined Collingwood at the end of 2014 following an eight-year period at Geelong, was offered the newly created director of coaching role at the Magpies for next season.

However, the move was widely seen as a demotion for Balme in the club's restructured football department.

As part of the reshuffle, the Magpies promoted experienced administrator Graeme 'Gubby' Allan – who returned to the club in May – as general manager of football to oversee their entire football department. 

Buckley said he had no say in the changes.

"I wasn't privy to the decision that was made because it's made higher up the chain than me," he said.

"One thing you do know that happens in a football club is change is inevitable and change is constant, but it needs to be the right change.

"I'm looking forward to working with 'Gubby' but that doesn't mean that I don't wish that Balmey had accepted that director of coaching role for 12 months, selfishly. 

"But I understand the reasons for him choosing to go to Richmond."

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire told a members' forum on Monday night the club was not certain it would fill the director of coaching role it had offered Balme now that he had decided to pass on the job and move to the Tigers.

"In the next few days we will decide what we do in that department," McGuire said.

He said the football department cap meant they would reassess how they would spend the money that had been allocated for the director of coaching. 

Balme rejoins the Tigers having played 10 seasons at the club in the 1970s.