Fremantle have sacked both their AFL coach Ross Lyon and chief executive Steve Rosich in a bombshell double decision.
The Dockers’ board informed Lyon, who still had a year to go on his coaching contract, of their decision on Tuesday morning.
The axings follow the club’s failure to make the finals since 2015.
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Assistant David Hale will take over in a caretaker-coach role for Fremantle’s final game of the season – Sunday’s away clash to Port Adelaide.
“The board has a duty to act … and be bold in making strategic decisions,” Dockers president Dale Alcock told reporters.
“Despite their individual contributions, Fremantle has not made finals for the past four years. This isn’t acceptable.
“To succeed in addressing the challenges that lay ahead … we need to change and we need to evolve.”
Alcock said the search for a new coach would cast a net “far and wide”.
“No one has been anointed to take over,” he said.
“This is absolutely about transforming our club. We need to act to ensure we are reinvigorate and re-energise for success in the future.
“No one is counted in, no one is counted out.”
Lyon was contracted until the end of the 2020 season.
“We are concerned that if we didn’t make this decision today we would be, in a sense, treading water for 12 months,” Alcock said.
“Clearly news like this, when it was not expected, is tough. It’s a tough day for our club and I think everyone internally is hurting.”
Chief operating officer Graeme Parker will act as interim chief executive until a permanent replacement is identified for Rosich, who held the job for 11 years.
Lyon was under huge pressure earlier this season when Fremantle posted five losses from six games between rounds 14-19.
But the veteran coach seemed to have revived his prospects after guiding Fremantle to an upset 34-point win over Geelong in round 20.
Both before and after that game, Rosich gave his assurances that Lyon would stay on as coach next year.
Losses to St Kilda and Essendon over the past fortnight killed off Fremantle’s finals hopes, but the general consensus was Lyon had done enough to continue as coach next year.
Lyon effectively labelled himself as unsackable during a press conference on July 9.
“I can guarantee you I’ll be around,” Lyon said at the time.
“My performance dictates we’ll be around. We’re a rebuilding team.”
Lyon guided Fremantle to finals action in his first four years at the club, including the 2013 grand-final loss to Hawthorn.
But the Dockers fell off a cliff at the end of 2015 and haven’t made the finals since.
Rumours are rife that players including brothers Brad and Stephen Hill, Ed Langdon and Luke Ryan could leave the club.
Fremantle had made major improvements this season but it wasn’t enough to save Lyon’s job.
Injuries to key players Jesse Hogan, Alex Pearce, Matt Taberner and Stephen Hill hurt Fremantle’s cause, but it was the team’s continued poor skill errors that frustrated fans the most.
Lyon is the fourth coach to either be axed or depart this season, after Brad Scott (North Melbourne), Alan Richardson (St Kilda) and Brendon Bolton (Carlton).
Brett Ratten is expected to be offered the full-time role at St Kilda but Scott could be in the mix to join Fremantle.
Other potential Dockers candidates could include Peter Sumich, Justin Longmuir, Michael Voss and even current Essendon coach John Worsfold.
Scott Burns, Robert Harvey, Matthew Nicks and Adam Kingsley could also throw their hat into the ring.
Lyon joined the Dockers in September 2011 amid controversy after he had just coached St Kilda to the finals and had a year to go on his contract with the Saints.
But Lyon enacted a get-out clause in his contract and joined Fremantle, who had axed Mark Harvey as their senior coach despite him also having a year to run on his Dockers contract.
© AAP 2019