Tearful Eddie McGuire announces footy end date
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has choked back tears while making the shock announcement he will stand down from the top job at the Magpies at the end of 2021.
McGuire made the bombshell announcement at the club's annual members' forum online, declaring only his wife and sons knew of his decision to step down from the role he has held since 1998.
He plans to be involved in helping choose his successor but says there "has not been a Melbourne Cup field" of candidates in previous talks to find his replacement.
"Back in 1998 it was my time to stand up for our beloved Collingwood, instead of calling on others to do something for our club, they turned my way and I'm proud that I answered," McGuire said.
"I have given everything I have to this position and now it is time for the club going forward, I will stand down at the end of next year and spend the rest of my time as president setting up a new era of Collingwood.
"I have given commitments to sponsors, governments and many people that I will remain at the helm in 2021 and do so with the responsibility of providing a smooth transition and a springboard into the future for our club in its senior leadership position.
"I had planned to make this announcement at the end of the year but Covid put paid to many finally laid plans, in conjunction with the change in direction of my media life and the timing of my son's schooling ending, the time was right and future strong for our club for me to make this call."
McGuire, 56, said he was confident of a smooth transition and the club was in strong shape despite the global pandemic stripping millions of dollars from the industry.
"Despite the ill-informed views of some, we have an active nominations committee ... who meet to discuss skill sets required for our board and the identification of talent. It has been an interesting experience over the years speaking to many people, some no one have heard of and some have been floated from time to time about their availability for a position on the board and a possible succession of my presidency," he said.
"As has been the case at most clubs including ours, there has not been a Melbourne Cup field for the position, many have shown an interest for when it suited, not necessarily when it suited us. As I said as a young man landing in this position in 1998, sometimes the position picks you
"I can assure you, there is never a perfect time to be a president of a football club and certainly not emerging from a pandemic.
"So I won't be handing off a hospital handball, that is why I'm making this announcement tonight, to give interested parties or more to the point people we are interested in, time to get their affairs in order and for me and my board to have the opportunity of providing a Barack Obama style transition rather than a Donald Trump experience.
"The club is in great shape, we continue to evolve and push ourselves and I can assure you this will not be a farewell tour on my part. I am anxious to push reform, continue to build this club and win the premiership in 2021.
"So in the meantime it is business as usual, my passion, love and energy for Collingwood remains undiminished, my care for the competition remains deep and abiding.
"Before I stood up here tonight, only my wife and sons were privy to my decision as I wanted the people I represent - the members and supporters of the Collingwood Football Club to hear it from me directly.
"There will always be a reason to go on, another idea, another campaign, another battle, but in due course that will be with another president.
"So let's look back on 2020 tonight, set the agenda for 2021 and get on with winning that flag ... as always, may the Magpie flourish."
McGuire said leading the fight against racism and developing facilities at the Holden Centre and Victoria Park were among his priorities next year.
"I have much to do before I hand on the baton, together with my board and executive we are set to announce significant landmark initiatives in the area of equality, the fight against racism to ensure Collingwood is a safe and welcoming environment for all people, and more on that in due course.
"We are finalising plans on our redevelopment of the Holden Centre and the building of Victoria Sports a world leading play in medicine, rehabilitation and concussion research and tele-health. It will give our players in all our codes access to the best research and development in these areas in conjunction with our partners.
"We are also pushing into grass roots development of sports and health. These plays will generate so many benefits for our club and the community, our women's sports programs and renovations of Victoria Park continue."
McGuire has been president of Collingwood since October 1998 and is easily the game's longest serving current club boss.
Despite a devout following from the Magpie faithful over 22 years, he had come under heavy criticism this year following a disastrous trade period.
Former Magpies director and leading lawyer David Galbally, AM QC, who said McGuire's time at the top was up.
Galbally told the Herald Sun last month: "You can be in charge of a club for far too long.
His brother and former Collingwood lawyer Francis Galbally followed up by telling the Herald Sun that "Eddie needs a succession plan in place and he needs to state publicly that he is going to go of his own making".
Originally published as Tearful McGuire announces Pies end date