Feathers fly ahead of Hawks board election

Jeff Kennett is ending his time as Hawthorn president in the only way he knows - with all guns blazing.

The former premier of Victoria has never ducked a political brawl and his latest tweets have raised the temperature further in the battle for who succeeds him at the AFL club.

On the one side is current board member Peter Nankivell, who is aligned with Kennett.

His challenger is 1991 Hawks premiership player and former board member Andy Gowers, who has criticised the president in the lead-up to the December 13 election.

Adding further spice, former Labor deputy premier James Merlino is also running for a place on the club board.

The Hawks brand is 'family club' but for now, their house is divided.

"Unemployed James Merlino, having jumped the Andrews disastrous government, now wants to join the Hawthorn board on a platform of governance," Kennett has tweeted.

"Give me a break, if he was concerned about governance why did he not apply that when in Cabinet.

"Now he wants to infect a great club. No way!".

Similarly Kennett fired a shot at Gowers' ticket for the club election.

"Grab this James Merino, recently retired Andrews (government) minister and Andrew Gowers are part of a political push to gain election to the board ... part of a ginger (sic) group that seeks diversity on the board," he posted.

"But their group have never nor now seen fit, or found one woman to nominate for the board even though half our members are women.

"We have two women's teams. Diversity! They want to turn the clock to HFC being a men's club only.

"The board is supporting 3 women for the (election), 2 who are already serving."

Kennett has served two terms as Hawks president, from 2006-11 and again since 2018.

During his tenure, Kennett has been a constant critic of the AFL.

He also has been disparaged the Labor state government, something Gowers says has cost the Hawks financially as they aim to build a new $100 million headquarters at suburban Dingley.

"Late-night tweets from our outgoing president Jeff Kennett criticising government officials does not help our cause when we look to the state government for funding," Gowers said.

"In addition, I personally know of several prominent Hawthorn people who simply won't be giving us money for Dingley until the outgoing president and his proxies are out of the club."

In a separate media interview, Gowers said those withheld funds totalled $25 million.

The election comes at a fraught time for Hawthorn, with an ongoing independent investigation into bombshell claims of racism at the club from 2008-16.