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West Coast powerbrokers weigh up bold Clarkson offer

EXCLUSIVE

John Townsend


A group of West Coast powerbrokers are putting together a massive long-term package in an audacious bid to convince master coach Alastair Clarkson to take charge of the struggling Eagles as early as next season.


And Clarkson’s potential move west could see inaugural Fremantle coach Gerard Neesham join him in a support role. Neesham mentored Clarkson, 54, early in his tenure at Hawthorn and was used as a sounding board during the 2008 premiership season.


Although West Coast premiership coach Adam Simpson has more than two years to run on his contract, the powerbrokers – who include several long-time financial backers – are understood to be willing to negotiate a lucrative settlement to smooth his exit.


Such a move would have significant implications for the club’s soft cap but the power brokers consider it necessary in a bid to ignite a substantial revival in the club’s dire on-field fortunes. West Coast are on track to earn just the second wooden spoon in their 36-year history and have several of their greatest-ever players likely to retire during or after this season.

The 109-point loss to Richmond on Friday was just the second triple-figure defeat in Perth and the club’s biggest loss in 14 years. It highlighted West Coast’s dramatic recent decline which had seen a series of inept performances and losses by 63, 84 and 109 points in the past three weeks.


The pressure building on GWS coach Leon Cameron, who is in the 10th year of his Giants tenure and may not survive the season, has sharpened the focus on Clarkson’s coaching future. The four-time Hawthorn premiership winner, who left the Hawks last year after 17 seasons when his former captain Sam Mitchell was named as his successor, has spent part of this year travelling and studying in the USA.


Clarkson has been the face of Tasmania’s bid to win a 19th AFL licence but that outcome could be several years away, making it unlikely that he would coach a potential new team.


Simpson, who replaced club legend John Worsfold in 2014, last year confirmed that he had signed a contract extension to the end of 2024.


He has coached West Coast 189 times, winning 115 matches at 61 percent, including the 2018 grand final.

But the Eagles appear to be in terminal decline with consecutive losing seasons likely for just the third time in their history.


Their imminent low finish could provide their first top 10 draft pick since their previous wooden spoon in 2010.


IMAGE: FILE