Ross Lyon is returning for a second stint as St Kilda coach, 11 years after controversially walking out on the AFL club to join Fremantle.
Under a headline of “He’s back”, the Saints confirmed football’s worst-kept secret in a media statement.
Club president Andrew Bassat also sent a letter to members, confirming they started speaking to Lyon the day after previous coach Brett Ratten was sacked.
“We have spent the last 10 days talking extensively to Ross. He has presented to our Board and met multiple times with myself, (chief executive) Simon Lethlean and (new football manager) Geoff Walsh to share his vision for the future of our program,” Bassat said.
Lyon, Bassat and Lethlean will front a media conference from 1.00pm (AEDT) at the Saints’ Moorabbin headquarters.
On October 14, Bassat and Lethlean held a media conference in the same room to explain St Kilda’s ruthless sacking of Lyon’s predecessor Brett Ratten the night before.
That came less than 100 days after the club had handed Ratten a contract extension.
Lyon said he has unfinished business at the club after coaching them to within one point of their second premiership – in their 2010 grand final draw with Collingwood, which was followed by a 56-point defeat in the replay.
“I have always had a strong affinity to the Saints, and it feels incredible to be back here as senior coach,” Lyon said.
“I have unfinished business with St Kilda and want to play a role in delivering success to the industry’s most loyal fans.
“I have been impressed with the vision of Andrew Bassat and Simon Lethlean, and along with Geoff Walsh, I am keen to get to work.”
Lyon will start officially on November 1, the same day Walsh also joins the club.
In his letter to members, Bassat said Lyon was appointed to develop a winning culture at the Saints.
“Ross’ unwavering pursuit of on and off-field excellence is exactly what we believe we need to take this club forward,” Bassat said.
“While his senior coaching record and reputation as a leader speaks for itself, Ross has a clear passion for St Kilda and is determined to bring the club and its people long-awaited success.
“Ross is aligned in our vision, and his experiences within the industry – particularly as someone with such in-depth knowledge of St Kilda – should give our members a high level of confidence moving forward.”
The 55-year-old is intent on building credibility for St Kilda, after twice leading them to losing grand finals during his previous five-year tenure.
The Saints are in the midst of the competition’s longest premiership drought, dating back to their only VFL flag in 1966.
St Kilda’s treatment of Ratten was labelled “disgraceful” and “demeaning” by former A-League coaching great Ernie Merrick, who spent most of the 2022 season as a part-time coaching mentor at the club.
Ratten’s sacking was the result of a football department review during which Merrick backed the then-coach to keep his job.
Lyon was sacked as Fremantle coach in 2019.