Essendon confirm coach Knights sacked - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Essendon confirm coach Knights sacked

29/08/2010 08:34:01 PM Comments (0)

Alan Richardson and Mark Williams are the early front runners to take over as Essendon coach as James Hird again ruled himself out of the job.

In a day of high drama at Windy Hill, the Bombers sacked Matthew Knights as coach with two years left on his contract.

Essendon have pledged to honour their financial commitment to Knights and this will cost the club up to $800,000.

Even before the Bombers formally confirmed Knights' departure, Hird said again on Sunday he was unlikely to apply for the senior coaching role.

"Things in my life would need to change dramatically," the Bombers legend told Fox Sports.

"It's happened so quickly, I think we're all shocked."

Earlier this month, Hird caused a massive stir when he said he would like to coach Essendon one day, but he quickly backed away from the sentiment.

Richardson is currently an assistant coach at Windy Hill and has applied for the Port Adelaide job, where caretaker Matthew Primus is the frontrunner.

Primus took over from Williams, Port's only premiership coach, who was also once an assistant at Essendon under Kevin Sheedy.

The Bombers confirmed earlier this month that they had spoken to Williams about possibly returning to the club as an assistant under Knights.

While it is no surprise that Essendon sacked Knights, the decision arrived only a day after they ended their season with a 29-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.

After making the finals last season, they slumped to 14th and won only two of their last 12 matches.

There was some thought that the Bombers might stick with Knights for one more year because the number of coaches out of contract this time next year will be much greater.

After Essendon broke the news to Knights, the players were told and then the sacking was confirmed at a Sunday afternoon media conference.

Bombers chairman David Evans said Knights, who took over from Sheedy in 2008, was "bitterly disappointed".

As speculation reached a crescendo in the last week about Knights' future, he expressed strong confidence several times that Essendon would honour his contract.

But Evans said the board decided unanimously on Sunday morning that Knights had to go.

"At all times, Matthew has conducted himself at our club with the utmost passion, commitment and courage," Evans said.

"Over the last few months he has shown grace under considerable pressure.

"This was not an easy job he took on three years ago, we were a club looking backwards, not forwards ... Matthew has started the process of rebuilding our list.

"However it has become to the club that we have not made the progress we needed to make this year and we needed a fresh start going into a new season.

"This lack of progress is the basis of the board's decision today."

Essendon will start the search for a new coach on Monday and hope to appoint him by the start of trade week in early October.

Chief executive Ian Robson insisted the club had not sounded out anyone to take over from Knights and said it was up to Hird whether he wanted to apply.

"We're happy to hear from any candidate, but James, it's a matter for himself," Robson said.

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