Neil Craig stands down as Adelaide coach

7News Adelaide
Craig speaks to the team during the break as they play St Kilda, on Friday July 22.

Neil Craig has stepped down as the Crows coach today, Adelaide Football Club has announced.

The move is effective immediately.

Neil Craig has coached the Crows since 2004, when he took over in Round 14 as caretaker coach, later moving into the role in his own right.

“It’s time. To continue would hurt the Club, given the negativity and distraction that my own role has become. We have clearly underperformed this year and as senior coach, I take the responsibility for that," Craig said today.

Adelaide have won just four games this year and are set to record their poorest season since joining the AFL in 1991.

Third year assistant and former Premiership Captain, Mark Bickley will take over as the caretaker, Senior Coach role for the rest of the season.

Craig took Adelaide to the finals in five of his six full seasons in charge but never contested a grand final - his best result was a third placing in 2006.

He coached Adelaide in 166 games for 92 wins and 74 losses, but won just nine games last year when missing the finals for the first time.

Craig's contract was to expire at the end of the season but, in January, he was placed on to the club's staff.

The move was designed to ensure Craig could remain with the club in some capacity when his coaching career ended, if both parties deemed it appropriate.

Craig will take an unspecified period of leave before both the club and he determine his future.

Bickley, who captained Adelaide to premierships in 1997 and 1998, had been an assistant coach to Craig since 2009.

Bickley will coach Adelaide in his own right for the first time on Sunday when the Crows, languishing in 14th position, meet local rivals Port Adelaide, currently last on the ladder.

Crows' chairman, Rob Chapman, said Craig made the decision with integrity.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Neil. He’s made an extraordinary contribution to our Club since 1997; and more particularly since taking over as coach midway through 2004.

“He has led the way in bettering the culture of our football team, and has driven standards and professionalism that has earned respect throughout the competition. And he has been an incredible role model in terms of the respect he’s shown for his Club and the game generally,"

The decision follows the Crows' horrific 103-point loss to St Kilda at Etihad Stadium, Friday night.

“Despite the disappointing results of late, Neil led us to five finals series, and re-established the List and the team to a strong and respected position," Chapman said.

  • Who do you think should replace Neil Craig permanently? Is Mark Bickley the man for the job? Tell us what you think in the comments box below.