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‘Tell them I won’t lose any sleep’: Kennett on potential overthrow bid

Clause 6.1 states “the club” by resolution can “remove a director or president” but just what “the club” means in terms of club directors and members is a point of debate.

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There is also the “vacation of office” clause, where there are seven listed points as to how a director’s seat can become vacant. Point one states that a director can be removed if he or she “becomes of unsound mind or a person who is, or whose estate is, liable to be dealt with in any way under the law relating to mental health”.

Supporters have argued over the weekend that Clarkson’s departure, and fraught succession plan with Sam Mitchell, had been handled terribly and in an “unsound” manner, leading one club insider to point strictly to the “unsound mind” line and quip: “The only way Jeff can be removed as president is if it’s proved that he has gone bonkers”.

The constitution was updated in 2018 to allow Kennett to return for a second stint as president. He is in the first year of his second term at the helm, having said he would only serve one term, and will remain in charge until the end of 2023, unless he voluntarily steps down.

Those seeking clarity on the constitution are also frustrated by Kennett – and the board’s decision – to hand chief executive Justin Reeves a five-year contract extension, questioning why such a long deal was granted. Clarkson and Reeves also fell out.

Another option is seeking an extraordinary general meeting, but members do not want to inflict any extra cost upon the club.

Kennett told The Age on Saturday he has no intention of stepping down, less than a day after Clarkson confirmed he will end his 17-year tenure at the end of this season, rather than the planned departure after the 2022 campaign. The early exit means the Hawks’ soft cap will have about $1 million of “dead” money.

The Hawks can expect a fiery annual general meeting in December, with some directors considering their future. There have also been murmurings of two potential rival tickets.

Kennett, who had initially held the top role from 2005 to 2011, has admitted the coaching saga could have been handled better. It was hastily fast-tracked after Mitchell had been approached by Collingwood to apply for their vacant senior coaching role. Kennett said he had wanted Clarkson to remain in charge next season – Clarkson had said he would – but that all changed.

Kennett has helped turn the Hawks into an off-field power, but detractors point to the plan towards 2050, released in 2017, which declared the Hawks wanted to win seven more premierships by 2050, at a rate of one every 4.7 years.

This included two premierships between 2018 and 2022, which now will not happen. The first five years of the plan were entitled “Dare to be Different”, which included having 100,000 members, developing a new training and administration facility at Dingley, securing an AFLW license, and extending the club’s Tasmanian government partnership.

The Dingley base is progressing well, with more than $30 million already raised, but the Hawks do not have 100,000 members. They are yet to secure an AFLW license but hope to join the competition in time for the 2022 season, while a new deal with the Tasmanian government – the current five-year deal is worth about $20 million – could be dependent on whether the state is finally awarded an AFL licence.

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