AFL: Nathan Buckley backs Collingwood board amid leadership challenge

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Collingwood Magpies coach Nathan Buckley backs the club’s board amid leadership challenge from Jeff Browne

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has backed the besieged AFL club’s incumbent board amid a leadership challenge from Jeff Browne.

The former Nine Network managing director’s takeover bid, coupled with club member David Hatley’s collection of enough signatures to bring about an EGM, has sparked an increasingly ugly off-field stoush.

Browne’s public declaration of his intentions this week prompted a stinging rebuke from the existing board, led by president Mark Korda.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has backed the besieged AFL club's incumbent board amid a leadership challenge from Jeff Browne

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has backed the besieged AFL club’s incumbent board amid a leadership challenge from Jeff Browne

A joint statement issued on Wednesday slammed Browne’s ‘coup driven by personal ambition’.

Magpies director Jodie Sizer went a step further on Thursday, declaring she would not serve under Browne’s leadership and accused him of ‘coming together with an agenda of power and privilege’.

Browne has since revealed he would have liked to keep Sizer – one of Australia’s foremost Indigenous leaders – on the board and challenged her comments, telling The Age he comes from ‘very humble beginnings’.

The power struggle comes with the Magpies (2-9) sitting 16th ahead of Saturday’s clash with Adelaide, and with out-of-contract Buckley’s coaching future still a major talking point.

Former Nine executive Jeff Browne aspires to lead the Collingwood board and is a longtime friend and ally of Eddie McGuire

Former Nine executive Jeff Browne aspires to lead the Collingwood board and is a longtime friend and ally of Eddie McGuire

‘It’s something that happens above my head and obviously it’s topical right here, right now, with the advent of more conversations coming out in the open,’ Buckley said of the board room battle on Friday.

‘But I believe that most of those people have Collingwood’s best interests at heart.

‘What I would say, and for what it’s worth, I actually believe that there’s been a whole heap of change at this football club over the last three or four years in particular.

‘I think we’re a much better organisation across those years and I believe the people that are on the current board have had no small part in that progress.

‘Yes, we’re struggling at the moment on field and our win-loss doesn’t look great, and there have been some challenges in terms of the salary cap and obviously the Do Better report, which was really public.

‘But there’s been that much change that has taken place – I believe the people that are on the current board are the right people to take the club forward, and believe in time that will be vindicated.’

Buckley said he has not specifically addressed the off-field power struggle with his playing group.

He said everyone at Collingwood is hurting because of the situation the club finds itself in, but is confident it can be turned around.

‘The situation that we’re in is not fatal – it’s a moment in time,’ Buckley said.

‘There’s a lot of things that are working for us and will come through in coming years, no doubt.’

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