Collingwood’s board has slammed a planned takeover of the besieged AFL club by former Nine Network managing director Jeff Browne, saying it opposes “coups driven by personal ambition”.
Browne, who has previously served as an AFL legal adviser, has finally gone public with his plans to run Collingwood after weeks of building speculation.
The 66-year-old wants to replace Mark Korda as president and install three allies on the club’s seven-member board. But on Wednesday night a strong statement issued by Collingwood’s seven board members made their position clear.
“The board of the Collingwood Football Club stands for unity, not division, and will therefore stand against coups driven by personal ambition,” the statement read. “Not one, let alone four, of the current board is prepared to step aside to allow a boardroom coup as proposed by Jeff Browne to proceed.
“A coup is not warranted, it has not been justified and cannot be justified. Nor is it in step with good governance or the will of members to agree to the demands of an individual member wanting only to be president.
“In any case, there is no vision, no ticket, no compelling strategy for you to consider or for us to step aside for. How could any board entertain a request to step aside without first knowing these things?”
Browne told News Corp on Tuesday night he will approach Korda in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful handover. The board statement said members would be willing to meet with Browne to avoid a “divisive and distracting campaign”, which has the potential to result in the spill of the board at an extraordinary general meeting.
Magpies member David Hatley has already collected enough signatures to bring about an EGM.
“Collingwood is a great club and strong and united leadership is critical if we are to move beyond our current malaise,” Browne said. “There is a growing wave of support from members for change and this change must begin with a refresh at board level.”
Browne said he had recently approached Korda to seek a position on the board but was knocked back. He said he is prepared to negotiate with Korda “in good faith” as he chases an immediate four vacancies on the board.
“The four new positions would include myself and three other high-quality candidates chosen specifically to provide the best overall mix and blend of skills and diversity,” Browne said. “I would seek the endorsement of the new board to become the chairman and president.”
Browne is the chairman of investment bank Moelis Australia and is a close friend of former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire. After 23 years at the helm, McGuire stepped down in February following significant backlash to the club’s handling of the release of the Do Better report.
Browne also has support from high-profile former Magpies players Craig Kelly and Peter Moore.