Treatment of Carlton CEO Steven Trigg shameful

Carlton's shameful treatment of Steven Trigg does not reflect well on the club, or chairman Mark LoGiudice and his inner sanctum of power brokers.

LoGiudice finally told Trigg on Thursday what the AFL and an increasing number of club bosses had known since the start of finals ??? that he was finished at the club.

The only explicable reason for the delay is that the chairman has faced a divided board in his bid to appoint former AFL football boss Simon Lethlean into the role being vacated by Trigg. Fairfax Media understands not all the Blues directors want Lethlean and certainly not without an executive search.

But this does not excuse their actions. Carlton was moved to act on Thursday after repeated denials to Fairfax Media and after a column suggesting the Trigg situation threatened to end in tears.

In a week that began with Hawthorn sacking chief executive Tracey Gaudry after just five months in the job and then Jeff Kennett re-assuming the club presidency, four Victorian clubs - Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs - are searching for new bosses. And the options are narrowing for Lethlean.

If he doesn't win the Carlton job the club will have misled him and Trigg, who previously was forced to depart - amicably - his long-term position with the Crows due to the Kurt Tippett fall-out. The view has always been that Trigg carried the can for his misdeeds but also for a number of Adelaide bosses.

The Blues claimed in a laughable media statement on Thursday that the decision to end the CEO's three-year tenure had come after months of conversations. And yet, contacted on Wednesday, Trigg insisted (for the third time in three weeks) that he wasn't going anywhere and had no clue he might be under pressure.

The move to install Lethlean has been led by LoGiudice. His henchmen including Steve Silvagni, Bruce Mathieson's nephew Craig and another director Luke Sayers have been gunning for Trigg for some time. But others, including sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins, had raised doubts about Lethlean's suitability for the role.

Carlton's interest in Lethlean and Lethlean's interest in Carlton had become an open secret among senior staff at head office and a widening circle of club chief executives. LoGiudice had not responded to questions about Trigg's future for a fortnight despite repeated requests. This after LoGiudice flatly denied that Trigg was leaving when first contacted at the start of last month.

Trigg, who took over from Greg Swann more than three years ago but has retained his Adelaide base and commutes between the two cities, had also denied suggestions he was returning to his home town.

LoGiudice's first big play as president-elect in 2014 was to direct an offer at Hawthorn's contracted list manager Graham Wright - an offer made without the full knowledge of the board and rejected. But not before senior Blues recruiting staff found out and were livid.

The situation this time suggests that Carlton's board, split so often in the past, is divided again because no one has a straight answer regarding the Lethlean offer or whether it has been put to all directors.

The rebuilding senior Blues, with their women's team and stated determination to change their culture, had become frustrated at their struggle to make strong profits and grow the club, along with recent sponsorship issues.

Having stated in Swann's last months that they needed marketing and commercial expertise, the club was spooked by a series of candidates from outside of football and finally settled upon Trigg because of his AFL experience. But a number of key general managers were let go and this did not help Trigg's cause.

Now, despite Carlton saying they have enrolled a recruitment firm to find a new CEO, Lethlean's wider circle are insisting the Carlton job is his if he wants it.

Collingwood are aware of this and even though president Eddie McGuire has shown a keenness to install him in Gary Pert's former role, the Magpies' hierarchy, led by interim CEO Peter Murphy and a newly empowered board of directors, are insisting he run a proper executive process for a change.

So although Lethlean had initially shown interest in the Collingwood job, Carlton was the bird in the hand. The Collingwood executive search has not even begun. Lethlean has also been sounded out for - and reportedly rejected - the Western Bulldogs job. He has also seemed unwilling to entertain a number of senior football operational roles.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan, a close friend, is strongly recommending him for a senior club role.

And Hawthorn, the club he traditionally supports, has rejected him with newly installed president Jeff Kennett removing any speculation immediately by pointedly questioning Lethlean's suitability for the job.

Lethlean was removed from his role at the AFL after it was revealed he had an affair with a junior staffer.

Whether or not the Blues' CEO deserved to go, the situation at Carlton is an indictment on the club and how it treats its people.

This story Treatment of Carlton CEO Steven Trigg shameful first appeared on The Age.