Three-time AFL premiership coach Damien Hardwick's relationship with a member of Richmond's administration staff has been approved by the club.
The 48-year-old confirmed in December he had split with wife Danielle, with whom he has three children.
There has been speculation in recent days a new relationship between Hardwick and a female member of the Tigers' commercial sales team could put pressure on the long-time coach's position, which he has held since 2010.
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But Richmond released a statement on Monday declaring the new relationship is not in breach of club policy.
"The club is aware that coach Damien Hardwick is currently in a relationship with a member of the club's administration staff," the statement read.
"The club has no concerns with this under club policy.
"Beyond this, it is a private matter and we ask that privacy be respected."
Hardwick, who led Richmond to a third flag in four years during a turbulent 2020 campaign, is on an extended off-season break away from the club.
The Tigers' coaching games record holder will not return to Punt Road until February, when he will begin his 12th season in charge.
In the meantime, Richmond fitness boss Peter Burge will lead the initial phase of the club's pre-season training program.
AFL clubs are scheduled to resume training on Wednesday ahead of the 2021 season, which is scheduled to begin on March 18.
Damien Hardwick’s split from wife Danielle stuns AFL world
Danielle Hardwick and the couple’s three children spent their Christmas with Richmond captain Trent Cotchin and his family.
Cotchin’s wife Brooke posted a picture of the family, describing the Hardwicks as their ‘second fam’ in the caption.
Danielle Hardwick replied in to the post, saying it was a ‘special’ Christmas morning.
“What a special Christmas Morning. Our hearts are full. Love you Cotchins.”
Danielle has been an influential figure in Hardwick's life, with the coach often referring to her as "Mrs Hardwick" in press conferences and admitting that she frequently gives him advice about his team.
After winning this year's grand final against Geelong, Hardwick spoke of the heavy toll that 2020 had taken on him, although the reasons for his marriage split are unclear.
“I’m going to take a bit of a longer break this year over summer,” Hardwick told 3AW.
“It’s been a pretty full on 3-4 years and we’ve done a hell of a lot of work and had a lot of success along the way but sometimes you need to step back.”
Hardwick and his wife starting dating in the 1990s while he was playing for Essendon and moved with their children to Adelaide before the 2002 season.
With Yahoo Sport Australia/Andrew Reid
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