ESSENDON has lost a key member of its off-field setup midway through the season with long-time staffer Matt Little departing the club.
The highly regarded Little has held a number of roles at the Bombers over the past decade, including being its head of player development, the manager of coaching performance and its VFL general manager.
He has also been Essendon's game-day runner over a long period of time, including as recently as the Bombers' heavy loss to the Swans last week at the SCG.
Little has left the club for family reasons in a move that has been in the making over recent months.
Little, who is a cousin of former Essendon coach and club great James Hird and played one game for Hawthorn in 2007, played VFL for the Bombers before becoming its VFL general manager for three seasons until the end of 2015.
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He then took on the important job as head of player development, managing the wellbeing, off-field growth and departures of players until 2020, when Little moved into a new role overseeing the performance of the coaching team, which then included John Worsfold and Ben Rutten as his anointed successor.
The off-field all-rounder's exit comes with the Bombers under the spotlight following their dismal 2-7 start to the season with pressure rising on Rutten.