‘It’s time’: Buckley steps down as Magpies coach

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has immediately stepped down from his role with the club.

This morning the Magpies confirmed the news they would “part ways” with Buckley with “heavy hearts”.

“Everything has it’s time and the club and I have reached ours,” Buckley said in a statement.

“Graham (Wright) and I have been in conversation consistently in the last few months about what the path forward is for the program and what it needs to progress.

“When it came to the senior coaching role it became clear that a clean slate, for new energies and a new voice, was necessary. So that is what has been decided.

“I’ve loved every moment of my time at the club and in any role I have given my all to it. This program is full of so many great people who are committed and connected to one another absolutely.

“I’ll miss being a part of that but will always feel like a part of me is left with them. I sincerely wish all of the staff, coaches and players every success.”

Buckley said the decision came after months of “open discussions” with Collingwood GM of Football Graham Wright.

There has been plenty of speculation about Buckley’s future in recent weeks as Collingwood’s very public boardroom spat since Eddie McGuire’s departure as president after two decades added pressure on the underperforming Magpies and their coach.

Buckley told players and staff in the football department at the club this morning of the news, with next Monday’s game between Collingwood and Melbourne confirmed as his last as Magpies coach.

Collingwood told media that after the match against the Demons, assistant Robert Harvey will succeed Buckley as interim senior coach for the rest of the 2021 AFL season.

The club has appointed a five-person panel of Mark Anderson, Graham Wright, football director Paul Licuria, board member Peter Murphy and one more yet to be appointed person, to select a permanent head coach replacement beyond 2021.

“It is a bit sad to understand that it’ll be coming to an end on Monday,” Buckley told reporters during a Zoom conference call on Wednesday morning.

“The discussions have been open. They’ve been really focused on what’s best for the club now and going forward. We haven’t performed the way we’d have liked to at this stage this season.

“I’ve had nine years at the helm after two years as an assistant, so I’ve had a fair crack at it. I’m really content with the decision that’s been reached.

“The conversations were largely around what’s best for the footy club and we’ve tried to remove the external noise.

“I think in the end, the last couple of weeks in conversations with Graham, it’s clear there was an appetite for change.

“We had a sense it was time for something new, something fresh.

“I would’ve been happy to coach the year out if that’s what the club felt they needed or wanted, but ultimately coaching this week and then stepping out is a new opportunity for growth.”

Buckley praised the club for the “transparent” process leading to his resignation and admitted as the club goes through a “regeneration” on many levels, he couldn’t guarantee that he would be up for staying on as coach for the next five-year rebuilding stretch.

“I’m really content with the process and what’s occurred. I’m confident that the club will head in the right direction,” Buckley said.

“Nothing lasts forever. I was going to be tapped at some stage. This is the best thing for the footy club. The guys all want to see the right thing for the club and I think this is the best move for the club as well.

“We are in a period of regeneration as a football club. The list turnover has begun and I think we can refresh really quickly. I think we can win quite quickly. The expectations externally are always a little bit lofty when it comes to Collingwood.

“I can’t categorically say that I want to be here for the next five years for instance. I think it needs to be fresh eyes, to help it pop again and help it regenerate.

“Potentially when you’ve been in the seat for 10 years the capacity to do that isn’t as great. There’s enough of that feeling internally for that to be warranted.

“I still believe in my ability to be a leader and a really good senior coach. But the time has come. It makes sense right now.”

Buckley said he is keeping his options open for future coaching roles at another AFL club, but for now he would focus on his family responsibilities.

McGuire stepped down from his position after 22 years at the reins amid the damning Do Better report which found the club guilty of systemic racism under his and Buckley’s watch. Bringing further scrutiny to the club has been the team’s lacklustre performance on the field and speculation over Buckley’s future.

The veteran coach was still unsigned as Collingwood limped to a 2-9 start to the 2021 AFL season.

Collingwood’s new president Mark Korda had indicated they intended to wait until the end of the season to determine Buckley’s future. But that stance has appeared to change.

Last week Nine AFL journalist Caroline Wilson stated that she believes Buckley wouldn’t be re-signed, and explained how his future is tied to the controversial coup attempt by Jeff Browne against Korda.

McGuire fumes over links to Pies coup

“I don’t think the current board is now united on whether or not Nathan Buckley should get that new contract and his manager Craig Kelly’s role is pivotal in the negotiation,” Wilson said.

“Collingwood won’t re-sign Nathan and I think the new board needs to come in and look at Nathan for the rest of the year before they make a decision.

“If they do decide it’s time for him to go, then I think it will be a big name that will replace him.”

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