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Saints to make decision on list manager soon

Tony Elshaug will step aside at the end of the 2018 season - AFL,St Kilda Saints
Tony Elshaug will step aside at the end of the 2018 season
We expect to have someone on board prior to the trade period and the draft
St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis

ST KILDA is set to appoint a new list manager as early as next week.

Recruiting and list manager Tony Elshaug won't continue in the role beyond 2018 after it was decided someone else should take over the role in June.

Elshaug is contracted for the rest of the year and agreed to stay on until season's end.

St Kilda CEO Matt Finnis told AFL.com.au Elshaug's replacement would be coming soon.

"It'll be well and truly before the end of the season. We expect to have someone on board prior to the trade period and the draft," Finnis said.

Port Adelaide list manager Jason Cripps was at RSEA Park on Thursday, however he was watching the Saints' training session as the AFL trialled potential rule changes. 

"I don't think Port have got anything to be concerned about," Finnis said.

Chris Liberatore was promoted to the role of national recruiting manager in March and will work underneath the incoming list manager.

"This role comes in to head up recruiting and list management, and really focused on the strategy, the modelling, the contracting, TPP management, all of those elements," Finnis said.

St Kilda will also seek to bolster its analytics section of the recruiting department.

Meanwhile, Finnis was unequivocal in his support for coach Alan Richardson, saying the incumbent would "absolutely" be in charge in 2019 despite a disastrous year that sees the Saints in 15th after originally setting their sights on finals.

However, there will be movement among his assistants.

"We've been pretty open about the fact that with our coaching group and our current plans for next year, whilst I'm not prepared to talk about individuals given those discussions are ongoing, we want to make sure we've got the right people in the right positions, and then the right structure to support Alan Richardson to achieve our goal," Finnis said.

Having won only four games this campaign will hurt the club's financial result.

"The impact is not as negative as it would previously have been given our business is more resilient now. We still expect to be in a close to 45,000 members, which is more than we've had ever in the history of our footy club," Finnis said.

An improved deal with Etihad Stadium, which came into effect for 2018, has proven the biggest factor in limiting the damage.

"Whilst we might not achieve the heights of expectation based on our crowd numbers being short of where we'd like them to be, our business model is more resilient now, so it (financial result) won't be what it could have been in the past," Finnis said.

The Saints remain interested in playing football in New Zealand but with no suitable stadium in Auckland, that prospect is some years off.

They played three matches for premiership points in Wellington in 2013-15.

"Not withstanding their desire for football, there's not a stadium there equipped to play AFL until at least 2021," Finnis said.

"That's something that we continue to have dialogue with them about but it hasn't been at the forefront of our minds in more recent times."