Essendon turmoil continues with departure of CEO Xavier Campbell

Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell has resigned after nearly nine years in the position as a tumultuous period continues at the AFL club. The latest change in the Bombers’ senior management structure comes just days after coach Ben Rutten was sacked, with club president Paul Brasher also having stood down from his role.

Campbell announced his resignation at a meeting with the staff and players on Wednesday morning, ending a 13-year association with the Bombers, having arrived in 2009 before being appointed to the role of CEO in 2014. His departure comes less than three days after he told media he was confident he had the support of the board and new president David Barham.

Campbell, who had been a supporter of recently-sacked coach Ben Rutten, was re-signed in May as CEO on a two-year contract until the end of the 2024 season. But last week’s board meeting, where Barham took over from Brasher as president, followed by an unsuccessful pursuit of Alastair Clarkson, turned the club on his head.

Campbell said it was the right time for him to step down and called for the fractured club to unite under Barham to help the club find finals success and ultimately, a premiership.

“I hope as much as anyone that we do that,” he said. “What this needs is; a focused and well-supported president, a board united in its intent, strategy and voice, working in lockstep with management, supported by loyal and committed members and fans who believe in the club, the direction it’s heading and the team that can take it there.

“Our playing group deserves nothing less than this. Our AFLW team deserves this. Our fans and members deserve it and are ready for it.”

Campbell played a key role in steering the Bombers out of the fallout of their supplements saga, including the 2016 suspensions of the “Essendon 34”. In a statement, Barham hailed Campbell’s strong leadership in reforming Essendon’s “governance, cultural and structural processes” amid the fallout from the saga, and managing legal procedures related to AFL anti-doping and Wada appeals.

Campbell also played a key role in re-signing players in the wake of the scandal, retaining sponsors, ridding the Bombers of associated debt and ensuring the club was a financial powerhouse.

Board member and Bombers great Simon Madden has also departed the club, while finance director Peter Allen has advised his intention to step away from the board following the club’s AGM in December.

Essendon failed to make finals this year, finishing 15th after making finals the year before, and the Bombers have not won a finals game since 2004. The club will begin the process of recruiting a new CEO immediately, with chief commercial officer Nick Ryan to assume the role in the interim.