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Hawks’ Alastair Clarkson set to leave Hawthorn

The ABC understands Hawthorn’s succession plan for life after Alastair Clarkson has imploded, following revelations the four-time premiership coach has severed ties with the club before the end of his contract.

Key points:

  • Clarkson led training with the team today at Waverley Park
  • It is not known if he will see out the rest of the season
  • It followed the collapse of a succession plan involving Sam Mitchell

Just three weeks ago, the Hawks announced former player Sam Mitchell would assume the head coach’s role from 2023, and work alongside Clarkson next season.

But a reported crisis meeting between board members and Clarkson’s management on Thursday night decided both men’s immediate coaching future, concluding that the plan was neither successful nor feasible.

The first real sign that something was afoot today, was a “rescheduled” press conference.

Clarkson was supposed to front the media this morning, but a hasty email from the Hawks’ media team three minutes after the conference’s original start time outlined a change in proceedings.

Player concerns

Clarkson led today’s training at Waverley Park, but some players were unaware of the news at the start of the session.

A group of senior players is believed to have confided to club bosses about their concerns over an ongoing Clarkson-Mitchell partnership.

Four-time premiership player, Mitchell — who was coached by Clarkson for most of his career — retired from the AFL in 2017 and became an assistant coach at West Coast for 12 months.

From there, Hawks powerbrokers lured him back to Waverley Park to work under Clarkson.

Recently, Collingwood’s interest in Mitchell to takeover from sacked coach Nathan Buckley proved to be the catalyst for Hawthorn making their now infamous succession plan public.

Clarkson, 53, is contracted until the end of 2022 but it is unknown if he son will coach the team this weekend against the Lions or see out the season.

The Hawks will reportedly pay Clarkson’s salary out in full for next season.