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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Less than two weeks ago, Melbourne Coach Mark Neeld quashed media speculation that his meeting with the board was for his dismissal as senior coach. However, media speculation has been rife regarding how long he would stay in the job. Neeld may have survived, but club president Don McLardy announced his resignation just ahead of the Round 12 games. He cited personal business interests and the team's poor performances as the reasons for stepping down. He has also relinquished his position on the board. He referred to a speech he made the previous Monday in which he recognized that the club needed to move forward with new leadership, direction and energy.

Vice President Peter Spargo has stepped in as interim president. In a statement, he acknowledged McLardy's contributions to the club, saying "Don stepped up during a very difficult time ... during Jim’s illness. Don has always focused on the club". He also paid tribute to board resigning board member Stuart Grimshaw, thanking him for his service and contributions. Grimshaw had previously advised the club that he would be standing down due to his other commitments as CEO of the Bank of Queensland and president of Hockey Australia.

Both McLardy and Spargo thanked the supporters for standing by the club and urged them to continue their support. The club has already put in place several initiatives to improve their situation. Spargo said there would be assessments of the board processes and club structures as well as the future direction and objectives of the club. The number of board members and the balance of skills and subcommittees will also be reviewed.

Just prior to his resignation, he and CEO Peter Jackson met with the AFL with a presentation which detailed the challenges facing the club and the changes they felt were required to improve the club both on the field and off. The AFL has said they will support the club's "reconstruction" but it would be conditional. AFL boss Andrew Demetriou said the League would review the issues including financial support. He said the AFL wanted the Demons to be a strong club and that the AFL would be committed to assisting the club.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release, Ryan Larkin, Melbourne Media Release

Article last changed on Monday, June 17, 2013 - 6:31 AM EDT

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