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Bertrand open to discussion of taking on Collingwood presidency

“It’s like any of these things, if you can help, you will, but what is the scenario? There would be a lot of discussions to be had even if there was interest from both parties.”

The Magpies have named Mark Korda and Peter Murphy as interim co-presidents to replace Eddie McGuire while the club undertakes a search for a long-term successor.

Lifelong Collingwood fan John Bertrand.

Lifelong Collingwood fan John Bertrand.Credit:Eamon Gallagher

Bertrand, 74, did not wish to comment directly on the club’s racism review, which led to McGuire’s demise, other than to praise McGuire for how he had rebuilt a club that had been in dire financial strife.

“The only comment I can make is that when Eddie took over at 34 years old, the place was broke. What he achieved over that period has just been remarkable,” he said.

“It’s tough for him to leave like this, but what he has achieved over that period has just been phenomenal. Great accolade. But beyond that I can’t really comment.”

Bertrand, currently chairman of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, has been flagged as a potential replacement by Magpies great Peter Moore because he “understands the culture and understands sport”.

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The Magpies said in a statement on Thursday, after holding a board meeting on Wednesday, that former Australia Post chief executive and board member Christine Holgate would head up the search for candidates both internal and external.

“The board believes that there are a number of high-quality internal candidates and wishes to consider external candidates for the vacancy. In replacing both the president and the casual vacancy role, the board wants time to determine what further professional expertise it wishes to bring to the board table,” the statement said.

The Magpies are also searching for a board member to replace the vacancy created by McGuire on what had been a seven-member board. The process is expected to take eight weeks.

Collingwood past players’ president Paul Tuddenham said he would consider serving on the board in the right circumstances, without committing to putting his hand up.

Digital and marketing expert Con Frantzeskos said he “is considering” putting his name forward to Collingwood’s nominations committee for a board position.

The statement also addressed initial plans for implementing recommendations from the Do Better report, which said there had been “systemic racism” at the club.

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“The implementation plan of the Do Better report findings was also addressed at Wednesday’s meeting. It was determined that the expert advisory panel recommended by the Do Better report will be established as a priority and report directly to the board,” the statement said.

“This work has already commenced and an announcement on the formation of the panel will be made next week.

“Further, the club will employ a strategic advisor to provide expert advice as the club begins to implement all the recommendations of the Do Better report across the organisation. This role will report directly to chief executive Mark Anderson. This appointment is also expected to be announced next week.”

Murphy presided over Collingwood’s review in 2017, after which the club re-appointed Nathan Buckley as coach and rise up to a grand final (loss) and to a revamp of football and administration.

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But one of the recommendations from that review – that there should be term limits for board members, a move that would have forced McGuire to finish up sooner – was not adopted by the board in the review of governance.

Korda has been influential in the oversight of Collingwood’s finances and in the disposal and purchase of assets, such as hotels, bringing his long-standing high-level experience as one of business Australia’s most-established corporate recovery specialists.

A view was taking shape on the board last week – and which gathered momentum as the club and McGuire were subjected to heated criticism over the findings and the president’s handling of the Do Better report – that the club would be best served by McGuire stepping aside, a position that he had accepted by Tuesday when he quit after 22 years.

The club’s Indigenous board member Jodie Sizer was a key driver of the Do Better report and of the appointment of two academics, led by Professor Larissa Behrendt, to complete a review of past racism at Collingwood, a review initially sparked by the allegations of 2010 premiership player Heritier Lumumba.

On Thursday, Lumumba called for the club to acknowledge the harm that past racism had caused, and he said the two media conferences involving McGuire since the release of the leaked report were a “train wreck” which cast doubt on the Pies’ capacity to deal with the issue with “transparency, honesty and action”.

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