Essendon coach James Hird has resigned, effective immediately. It’s believed the players were told at lunchtime today and the Bombers have scheduled a media conference for this afternoon.
The Age says his departure follows a string bad losses by the Bombers, who were thrashed by Adelaide by 112 points on the weekend, rather than the long-running supplements scandal which has engulfed the club over the last few years and led to Hird’s 12-month suspension as coach.
Hird’s relationship with the Bombers has been troubled since his return. Last year, he went against the club’s wishes in deciding to appeal the Federal Court ruling against both him and the club over the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s (ASADA) doping case involving 34 players in Essendon’s 2012 supplements program.
The issue has been in and out of courts over the past 18 months in a series of appeals across multiple jurisdictions. Hird received a 12-month suspended as coach for bringing the game into disrepute, but returned to the club late last year as a consultant before returning as head coach for the 2015 season. The Bombers have won just 5 games this year.
Essendon and Hird argued that the anti-doping authority’s investigation into the club was unlawful, but they were thrown out in the Federal Court last year. A further appeal by Hird was rejected in January this year.
A final appeal, instigated by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) after an AFL tribunal found the 34 past and present Essendon players did not have a case to answer, goes before a three judge panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in later this year.
While the legal wrangling continues, Essendon will join the hunt for new coach as it lost club legend and 2014 interim coach Mark “Bomber” Thompson following Hird’s return.
Hird is expected to be paid out on the year left to run on his contract.
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