Paul Brasher, Alastair Clarkson and Ben Rutten. Pictures: AFL Photos

DAVID Barham will take over as Essendon Football Club president as club powerbrokers continue to demand Alastair Clarkson be pursued as coach.

The Bombers will also undertake an external review after another failed season that has reaped just seven wins from 21 games, in what new president Barham described as a "line in the sand" moment. 

After a second meeting of club directors in 24 hours, which concluded early Monday afternoon, it was determined Barham, a highly successful TV industry executive, would replace Paul Brasher, who will remain on the board.

CHANGE AT THE TOP Brasher set to depart after horror loss

A cloud continues to hover over Ben Rutten, who remains as coach of the Bombers after the meetings.


Several high-end business people connected to the club had been seeking to formalise a plan to officially approach Clarkson, with the meetings called to address this matter and other aspects of the club’s football operations.

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell said on Monday afternoon that he had not spoken with Clarkson. 

Asked if he could guarantee the under-fire Rutten's future, Campbell said: "Ben's the coach of our footy club. 

"As you guys are aware, there are ongoing discussions at board level and they will continue this week."

The meetings were called immediately before and after Essendon’s disastrous 84-point loss to Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium.

Ben Rutten after Essendon's 84-point loss to Port Adelaide in round 22, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Brasher’s unwavering support of Rutten had become a frustration for some Bombers powerbrokers.

Some at the club wanted to launch a wide-ranging external review, which would take at least six weeks to complete, a timeframe which would have taken Clarkson out of Bombers’ considerations.

Others have been adamant only an internal review would allow for the immediate action required to get involved in Clarkson’s movements.

Campbell said the club's executive team had presented to the board "a couple of weeks ago" and there would be more announcements about the club's plan to improve. 

"There’s an ambition to drive improvement and make our football program the best program it can be so that’s where we sit at the moment," he told reporters at Tullamarine. 

The horrendous nature of Sunday’s loss to Port Adelaide hastened several negotiations late Sunday and early Monday. The Bombers sit 15th on the ladder with seven wins.


The club released a statement late on Monday afternoon, confirming the change of board leadership and announcing the external review. 

"Over the past two decades, on-field success has eluded us. We need to change this," Barham said. 

“We need to place a laser-like focus on our football performance above everything else. We need to build a platform, that will bring us sustainable success.

“The view of the board is that we cannot continue to only review ourselves and hope that things will change. Whilst the review was thorough and well done, the board has determined that our club needs further external aspects added into our analysis.

“We need to accept where we are, look hard at what best practice in AFL football is, reset, and then begin our fight back to winning premierships... To all Bomber fans, this is a line in the sand moment."

Andrew McGrath and his Essendon teammates leave the field after their loss to Port Adelaide in round 22, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Amid the upheaval at board level, the Bombers also met with former player Dean Solomon over the weekend in relation to a potential role in their football department. 

Solomon was a long-term assistant at Gold Coast after his playing career, including being an interim coach in 2017, before departing in 2020. He was a member of Essendon’s 2000 premiership team.

Clarkson is yet to formally respond to senior coach offers made by North Melbourne and GWS.

He had been expected to make his own mind up as early as Tuesday, and would have by extension relayed that to the Roos and Giants at some stage of this week.

The North offer is more financially lucrative than the Giants’ bid, however there may be scope for the Giants to bolster its contract via an AFL ambassadorial grant.

The AFL Commission was meeting Monday, where it was believed that topic was going to be discussed.