'I would disagree': Kane Cornes in heated showdown with Jeff Kennett

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Pictured left, former AFL player Kane Cornes alongside a photo of Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett.
AFL pundit Kane Cornes took Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett to task during a radio segment on SEN. Pic: Twitter/Getty

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has engaged in a heated debate with Kane Cornes over the club's latest succession plan and his insistence that the Hawks have “never been in a better position”.

Just months after the succession plan between former coach Alastair Clarkson and new mentor Sam Mitchell fell to pieces, Hawthorn announced that they are in the process of finding a successor for Kennett.

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Kennett's second stint as president started in 2017 and was only meant to last for three years.

But he decided to stay on for another three-year term to guide the club through the Covid-19 crisis.

His current term is due to expire at the end of 2023, but Kennett wrote a letter to members on Thursday advising them of the succession plan.

Hawthorn's board has acted as the nomination committee in identifying and recommending to members its next president and board members.

No time frame has been set on the succession plan, but it could be as early as next year.

Discussing the situation on SEN's The Captain's Run on Friday morning, a bullish Kennett told Cornes that Hawthorn was in the best position it's ever been in, prompting a blunt response from the Port Adelaide great.

"I would disagree with that Jeff and I’m happy to debate that with you," Cornes said. 

"You’re paying the best coach of the modern era $900,000 to have a holiday in the USA and there’s been some conjecture over your list and other areas... Sam Mitchell in the (coaching) chair quicker than you would have expected. Is that accurate.... or is that spin that the club is in the best position they’ve ever been in?”

Kennett said Hawthorn owed it to Clarkson to let him leave one year earlier than expected after he helped deliver four premierships.

The Hawks president argued that the club was able to make that decision because of the financial position it finds itself in.

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“The fact that the club is in such a strong position, we can afford to do that and this year we are still going to record a small surplus on our football operations, which after two years of COVID you’ve got to admit is a pretty good place to be. You’re right in terms of the facts, but your interpretation is wrong because the club is in very good condition that we could do that.

“As you know, in any job and particularly in the emotional world of football, when you make the decision as we have about our coaching future, it is an emotional issue and I understand that, football is very, very emotional. But leadership is about making the right decisions at the right time. We obviously needed a change, Clarko needed a change and we have affected that.

Pictured here, Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett and former coach Alastair Clarkson shaking hands.
Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett and former coach Alastair Clarkson shakes hands after an AFL game in 2021. Pic: Getty

“That obviously led to a response, which I totally understand, but it was and is the correct decision and in Sam Mitchell we have a wonderfully prepared, trained, experienced individual who will be two years older than Clarko was when he started in 2004 to lead us to what I hope will be a very profitable 10 years, particularly on the football field itself. You’re right in terms of facts, you’re wrong in terms of the motivation.”

Cornes then pressed Kennett about a likely timeframe for the president to be replaced at the club, with the former Victorian premier insisting the board would not be rushed into making a decision.

"The committee will be established later on after our AGM and then we’ll work out with them their terms of reference. I’d imagine we’d identify anyone on the current board who wants to succeed me then they might look outside for people who might offer themselves... we’ll set them a target of reporting back by June 30th so there’s no hurry whatsoever.

"It’s a process that brings about the right decision for the right person to lead the club through what will then be by constitution at least six years of leadership.”

with AAP

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