MELBOURNE CEO Cameron Schwab has quit.
His reluctant departure after crisis talks comes in the wake of the Demons' dismal start to the season, highlighted by Saturday's 148-point loss to Essendon.
Schwab told a media conference he resigned after "full and frank discussions" on Tuesday afternoon with club president Don McLardy, who made it clear it was in the club's best interests for him to go.
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"It now gives the club the opportunity to move forward," Schwab said.
McLardy said it was a hard day for the club - "another one" - and had been a difficult discussion with Schwab, but the right decision had been made.
He deflected criticism that the club had re-appointed Schwab for three years in the middle of last year and had now encouraged him to resign.
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Talks had been ongoing, McLardy said, and the decision had related to events over the past four years.
"We are completely accountable for what happens in our football club.
"We have to work out as a board how do we go forward and give our supporters the hope and desire to stay with our football club and see it succeed."
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McLardy acknowledged that the decision was a complete about-face from the position he took on Saturday night, when he called for stability and said rash decisions would not be made.
"It is our job as a board representing our members to stand up under pressure and make the decisions for the good of our football club."
He said Schwab had been "maligned unfairly" in the media, and acknowledged the club had "a divided supporter base".
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"We must offer them hope and change."
He said Schwab's departure was part of uniting the club in the future, and denied that senior coach Mark Neeld was now on notice.
Schwab said his preference had been to remain in the role, but he accepted the club's right to change direction.
"Am I a scapegoat?
"I know how the system works. I know how the game works. I know ultimately my role as the CEO is build a club which first of all could do what a football club needs to do, but its ultimate objective is to win games of footy."
He said he believed Demons' supporters would see him as "a very loyal and very passionate and hopefully very capable CEO for their football club".
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Schwab, 49, was appointed as chief executive in 2008, and reappointed on a three-year contract midway through 2012.
He began in football in 1981, straight out of school as a cadet administrator with Melbourne and later became recruiting manager.
Schwab was appointed general manager of Richmond in 1988 aged 24, the youngest in AFL history and returned to Melbourne as CEO in 1997 and in 2000 was appointed CEO of AFL.com.au.
He joined Fremantle as chief executive in 2001 and served there until his return to Melbourne.