The Bombers are back in crisis after Andrew Thorburn stood down as CEO barely 24 hours after his appointment, due to his role as chair of a church with divisive views around abortion and homosexuality.
Essendon told Thorburn he was unable to serve as the club’s CEO while continuing as chair of City on a Hill and he opted to remain with the church rather than stay with the Bombers, the club he grew up supporting.
The Board of the Essendon Football Club has accepted the resignation of Andrew Thorburn as CEO.
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) October 4, 2022
Former Essendon chairman Paul Little has slammed the AFL club’s current leadership for a lack of professionalism in the bungled appointment.
Little, who led Essendon through the supplements saga, said the club’s due diligence should have uncovered Thorburn’s links to the City on a Hill church before he was appointed to the Bombers role.
“That information was out there and was easily accessible, so for it to have been missed as part of their [due diligence] I find that unusual,” Little told ABC. “He wasn’t new to the club, he was well known to the club.”
At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Essendon president Dave Barham said he “reference checked [Thorburn] thoroughly” and “had no reason to think anything other than he was a suitable candidate”.
Little cast doubt over those claims.
“I’m assuming [Thorburn’s church link] was considered and felt not to be of that great a concern that it should impact his role, but I stress that I don’t really know because I wasn’t there,” he said.
Little said the CEO saga “is one of a number of issues that are negatively affecting the club at the moment.”
He cited the “bumpy road” to appointing Brad Scott as coach, which followed Ben Rutten’s sacking in August, and “key people” departing the board as further areas of concern.
“I just feel at the present time we are not giving our members, our sponsors, our supporters and of course our playing group a reasonable return for the trust they’ve put in those individuals,” Little said.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday the appointment of a CEO was a matter for Essendon but labelled the church’s views “absolutely appalling”.