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Tigers appoint Neil Balme as head of football

Neil Balme, Director of Football at the Magpies looks on during the 2015 NAB Challenge Week 1 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Collingwood Magpies at Aurora Stadium, Launceston on February 26, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Neil Balme has left Collingwood to join Richmond

RICHMOND has executed a coup of its own, poaching Neil Balme from Collingwood and installing the former Tiger as its new football manager.

In a major boost for the club, which has been under siege by board challengers following an eight-win season, Richmond unveiled Balme as the centerpiece of its restructured football department.  

The 1973 and 1974 premiership Tiger, who had been highly sought by the Brisbane Lions, had also been the main selling point of the Focus on Footy group challenging the Tigers board.

His appointment under the existing regime will likely rob the challengers of any momentum and stabilise the Tigers as they fight to avoid an extraordinary general meeting.     

"He will now take responsibility for determining how we respond to the findings of the review," CEO Brendon Gale said.

"We have been in discussions with Neil for a number of weeks. He is excited by the challenge that lies ahead and clearly has a passion for a club where his football journey began.

"We are delighted that he has accepted this new role.”

As part of the restructure, Dan Richardson has moved from his role as football manager and into the new position of general manager of football talent.

He will work closely with list manager Blair Hartley and oversee player contracts, welfare, list management and recruiting, and the development of the club's Next Generation academy.

He will report to Balme, who is a close friend and premiership teammate of his father, Barry Richardson.

Recruiting manager Francis Jackson has been replaced by Matthew Clarke, who will take over for the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.

Jackson, the club's long-time recruiting manager, will remain in a part-time capacity, with the Tigers hoping to increase their investment in recruiting.

In other changes, Luke Meehan has been promoted to the role of strength & conditioning coach, replacing Adam Douglas.

Rob Inness has been appointed to the role of rehabilitation coach, taking over from Meehan.

"Ultimately, this review has identified the need to get the right people in the right roles and to give them the clarity and structure that will allow them to focus on building a culture of success," Gale said.

"We are absolutely committed to delivering success for our fans and we believe these significant structural changes and appointments will give us the best opportunity to do just that."

The Tigers' review was conducted with the help of external consultant Craig Mitchell, from Ernst and Young's sports advisory practice.

The club said the 10-week review had taken in data analysis, comparative benchmarking and consultation with key stakeholders within the club.

Gale said the review had been a thorough process and had taken the time required.

The Tigers' coaching team was overhauled before the review was completed and interviews for new candidates to replace at least three coaches have already started.

Balme will play a key role in those appointments, as well as reshaping the club's leadership programs.

NEIL BALME FACTFILE

DOB: January 15, 1952

* Joins Richmond in 1970 after four matches with WA side Subiaco

* 159 senior games for Richmond to 1979, including 1973-74 premierships

* Coaches Norwood in SANFL from 1980-90, featuring the 1982 and 1984 premierships and finals every year

* Coaches newly merged SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens to finals 1991-92

* Coaches Melbourne in AFL 1993-97, finals 1994

* Collingwood football operations manager 1998-2006, 2002-03 Grand Finals

* Geelong football operations manager 2007-14, one of the key figures in the club's three premierships in 2007, 2009 and 2011

* Returns to Collingwood in late 2014 as football director

* September 12, 2016. Returns to Punt Rd as general manager of football.