Dogs 'as important as GWS'

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 17 Oktober 2012 | 14.43

Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon announces he will hand over power to former club president Peter Gordon in a press conference at Whitten Oval. Picture: Stuart Walmsley Source: Herald Sun

NEW Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon says he inherits a club in a much better position than when he left - and which now has the full support of the AFL.

As revealed exclusively on SuperFooty last night, David Smorgon's 17-year reign will end at the club's annual general meeting in December.

In a shock move, Smorgon, 65, last night agreed to hand power to former club president Gordon for the 2013 season.

Smorgon took over the top job at Whitten Oval in 1996 - from anti-merger hero Gordon.

Smorgon is standing down a year earlier than planned after he was swayed by a succession report tabled at a lengthy Bulldogs board meeting yesterday.

The shake-up, to be confirmed by the club today, will see wealthy Dogs director Susan Alberti named as vice-president.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone that has been involved with the Bulldogs and assisted the Bulldogs during my time here. It's been a real team effort," Smorgon said today.

"Being a part of the red, white and blue has been a central part of my life – and while it is sad to depart – I do so with confidence that the Bulldogs have never been better placed to seize the opportunities and tackle the challenges that lay ahead".

Smorgon said he was "thrilled" the board had endorsed Gordon as the preferred candidate to succeed him as president.

"Peter Gordon is one of Australia's best known and respected lawyers and a man with a track record of success in whatever he gets involved in," Smorgon said.

"He is a man with great and innovative ideas looking at a fresh approach and who is going to add on to the base that has been built.

"We know we have got the right man and we have got a man whose got the track record, the credentials and the passion and love for this club to do a great job'".

Western Bulldogs president David Smorgon is confident coach Brendan McCartney can rebuild the club. Picture: Ellen Smith Source: Herald Sun

Gordon said he inherited a club in a much stronger position than when he handed over power to Smorgon in 1996 - "and of course it's in an exponentially better position than it was in 1989".

Gordon was encouraged by what he heard from AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, CEO Andrew Demetriou and chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan during a meeting today.

"The irony of it was not lost on me that I was welcomed into the AFL headquarters by a management that not only values and recognises the Western Bulldogs football club franchise, but also its vital importance to the competition as a whole - in particular because of its roots and its work in the western suburbs of Melbourne,'' said Gordon, the director of Gordon Legal.

"And that was not a philosophy, frankly, that seemed to be a priority 25 years ago.

"In a sense we are greater western Melbourne and greater western Melbourne is as important to the future of the competition as (new franchise) Greater Western Sydney.''

Gordon said he wanted to play a central role in how the AFL dealt with the growing gap between rich and poor clubs.

Gordon will speak further with outspoken former player and now successful restaurateur Paul Dimattina in coming weeks about his bid for a seat on the board.

Dimattina had been an increasingly vocal critic of Smorgon in recent years, but Gordon said he came into the job with an open mind.

"All Bulldogs will be welcomed back to the kennel,'' Gordon said.

"And all Bulldogs will be asked, and in some ways expected, to contribute what they can.''

Western Bulldogs President David Smorgon (centre) with past presidents Nick Columb (left) and Peter Gordon. Picture: Michael Dodge Source: Herald Sun

Smorgon will stand down from the board at the club's annual general meeting on December 20.

Bulldogs members will then be asked to vote Gordon on to the board, which would confirm his presidency.

A Bulldogs board committee, headed by outgoing Dogs director Ian Veal, has spent several months exploring succession options for the popular Smorgon.

The committee recently settled on the pairing of Gordon and Alberti, a recommendation approved by the board.

The quality of the candidates was enough to convince Smorgon that the time was right to step aside.

Gordon, a successful lawyer, became Bulldogs president in 1989 after leading the fight against a merger with Fitzroy.

His board stood aside for the Smorgon administration in 1996.

Smorgon is the second-longest serving president in the AFL behind Sydney Swans chairman Richard Colless.

 - with AAP

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