AFL news 2022: Essendon Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell resigns, Board members quit

Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell has resigned, with a quartet of Bombers board members following him out the door.

The fallout from Essendon’s horror 2022 campaign has continued, with Campbell stepping down from his position less than 24 hours after the Bombers’ final home and away fixture.

Essendon finished 15th on the AFL ladder this year with seven wins and 15 defeats — a disappointing outcome after the team qualified for finals in 2021.

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Bombers president Paul Brasher stepped down from his position last week, while coach Ben Rutten copped the axe after Essendon’s 66-point loss to the Richmond Tigers on Saturday.

And Campbell, who took over as chief executive in 2014 at just 34, is the latest domino to fall, reportedly walking out following a disagreement of opinion with newly-elected president David Barham.

The 42-year-old informed David Barham of his decision on Sunday, according to AFL.com.au.

“Being CEO is more than a job and it has been an absolute privilege, a pleasure, and an experience I will always be proud of,” Campbell said in a statement.

“I have done everything in my power to restore the club’s financial, structural, and cultural stability; to help pick up the pieces and put the club back together after the heartbreak, chaos, and instability of my first four years was one of the more difficult tasks I will face in my professional career. And despite the challenges of this past week – I believe we have done that.

“There is an opportunity to take the Club on to finals success and ultimately, a premiership.

“What this needs is; a focused and well-supported President, a Board united in its intent, strategy and voice, working in lockstep with management.”

Former Bombers president Paul Brasher and longtime board member Simon Madden have also quit after Campbell’s resignation, while vice president Peter Allen and football director Sean Wellman are also expected to leave later this year, The Herald Sun reports.

Campbell, who took over as Bombers chief executive amid Essendon’s infamous drugs scandal, helped navigate the club through arguably the most difficult period of its history.

He received a two-year contract extension from Essendon in May, tying him to the club until 2024.

Campbell was reportedly a huge supporter of Rutten, opposing the club’s failed pursuit of four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson.

“Xavier Campbell has resigned as the CEO of Essendon,” footy reporter Sam Edmund told SEN Breakfast on Wednesday morning.

“So Xavier Campbell leaves as the fallout at Essendon continues after a difficult season in 2022.

“Paul Brasher steps down as president and now Campbell as CEO and a senior coach is obviously needed there.

“Xavier Campbell instituted that John Worsfold to Ben Rutten succession plan, he was tied to Rutten and wanted him to remain as coach next year.

“There was the review at the heart of that, obviously the internal and external debate that was had around the boardroom table.

“In the end, Xavier Campbell has resigned as CEO of Essendon which is big news.”

Barham paid tribute to Campbell in a statement: “He assumed the position at a time that required strong leadership during the most turbulent time in our history.

“He tirelessly led to reform the club’s governance, cultural and structural processes following the fallout of that difficult period and managed very complex situations through the legal procedures, including the AFL Anti-Doping and WADA appeals and sanctions processes as well as being instrumental in player and sponsor retention during this most challenging periods. And under his leadership, significantly, saw the elimination of the associated debt that peaked during this time.”

Meanwhile, Essendon list boss Adrian Dodoro is under immense pressure to keep his position after the Bombers failed to win a finals match for a 19th consecutive year.

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