The Adelaide Football Club announced yesterday that they were conducting an internal review of it’s football operations.

The announcement follows a massive backlash from fans following the Crows Round 23 loss to the Bulldogs, which sees us missing the finals for the second consecutive season, following the Grand Final appearance in 2017.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/crows-fans-vent-their-anger-as-board-member-mark-ricciuto-apologises-for-comments-that-disgruntled-fans-can-barrack-for-someone-else/news-story/c2ca724581c445de828edfc191b3fcee

Many fans are happy with the announcement, but here at CrowCast, we’re not popping the champagne corks just yet. Our listeners were among the first to air their grievances and demand change at the club, with nearly 600 people co-signing an open letter to the club demanding a full and transparent external review, led by impartial people not associated with the club. On the surface, what the Crows have announced is not really that.

Announcing the review, Crows Chairman Rob Chapman said the Club’s internal review had already commenced and added consecutive seasons of missing finals demanded a more thorough examination of football structures, systems and personnel.

“Recent results have fallen short of our own expectations and those of our passionate and loyal members and supporters, who like us are very frustrated and disappointed,” Chapman said.

“We must identify any deficiencies, challenge ourselves and focus on improvement with a view to delivering consistent performances and sustained success in a fiercely competitive league.

“Having a number of experts with specific skillsets and expertise, as well as intimate knowledge of the modern game and high performance environments, will ensure there is meaningful feedback that can support positive change.”

This does not sound like the review we need. In our recently published chat with Crows CEO Andrew Fagan, we were told that the club regularly reviews it’s operations, often with the assistance of external consultants. The review announced yesterday certainly seems to reflect exactly that – an in house review with the assistance of external experts in various fields. So far, those experts include high performance expert Tim Gabbett and leading sports psychologist Jonah Oliver. Experts in their field, absolutely, but hardly the people to conduct any sort of impartial review on the football operations of the club.

It’s worth noting that recently successful reviews at Richmond and Geelong were instigated by the respective Boards of those clubs. In the case of Richmond, external consulting firm Ernst and Young were contracted by the Tigers Board to review Football Department Operations from top to bottom. For a fascinating insight into this review process, which many say led to the Tigers 2017 juggernaut, read this article: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/teams/richmond/revealed-the-nine-key-points-of-richmonds-internal-review-that-turned-the-tigers-around/news-story/e5a7f8f339a386b7d23ccbd3edf838d8

Is this what is happening at Adelaide? Sadly, I dont think it is. In our petition to the club, we asked for transparency and “no spin”, but it feels to me as if the club is using words to deflect the growing fans’ unrest. Whilst Rob Chapman and Mark Ricciuto have both indicated that all positions will be reviewed, the appointments of Gabbett and Oliver don’t inspire confidence in a full root and branch review. Is this just another example of the Crows administration treating it’s fans with contempt?

It’s worth noting that the Board of the Adelaide Football Club is relatively untouchable. There is no real means for the members and fans to exert any pressure directly on it’s members – even member elected representative Kym Ryder has been silent publicly these past few weeks. So fans must continue to pressure the Club and not blindly accept the words offered to them. We’ve seen the impact of fan backlash, with our efforts and those of others reaching mainstream media and influencing the commercial press. The job is not done though, dear Crows fan, because now it’s time to hold the club accountable.

This may well be the review the fans have demanded, but at this stage I’m not convinced.