sport news Essendon Bombers legends slam the AFL club for Andrew Thorburn debacle and ... trends now

sport news Essendon Bombers legends slam the AFL club for Andrew Thorburn debacle and ... trends now
sport news Essendon Bombers legends slam the AFL club for Andrew Thorburn debacle and ... trends now

sport news Essendon Bombers legends slam the AFL club for Andrew Thorburn debacle and ... trends now

Politicians and footy legends continue to weigh in on the CEO debacle engulfing Essendon - with more questions emerging around the process that saw him appointed as the club's boss. 

Andrew Thorburn, 57, was announced as the Bombers new CEO on Monday, but his role at a controversial church that has compared abortion to the Holocaust drew wide condemnation. By Tuesday evening, he was already gone. 

It has sparked a widespread debate across not only the footy world, but discussion amongst regular Aussies as to whether religious views, no matter how controversial, should have precluded him from the role. 

Delving deeper into the matter though, there are several other red flags with Essendon's process and decision to appoint Thorburn - and club greats Matthew Lloyd and Tim Watson labelled the situation 'embarrassing'.

Andrew Thorburn has stepped down as the CEO of Essendon after just one day after the club faced a wave of criticism for his religious views

Andrew Thorburn has stepped down as the CEO of Essendon after just one day after the club faced a wave of criticism for his religious views

To start with, Thorburn, a former boss of Big 4 bank NAB, was actually in charge of finding a new CEO for Essendon - before he himself was appointed to the role.

The 57-year-old had been leading the Bombers review of the football department, which included the search for a new CEO after Xavier Campbell resigned last month.

In a letter to members in August, president David Barham wrote that Thorburn had been engaged to 'drive the broader external cub review', which, among other things, involved 'the appointment of a new CEO'.

He even interviewed other candidates for the role, according to the Financial Review, before stepping away from that portion of the review when it became clear he may have been one himself.

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd (left, pictured with wife Lisa) couldn't believe Thorburn was on a panel to select a CEO - a position he later filled himself

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd (left, pictured with wife Lisa) couldn't believe Thorburn was on a panel to select a CEO - a position he later filled himself

It was a point not lost on Lloyd, the club's greatest-ever goalkicker. 

'He was part of the panel to select the CEO. I never like it when the person who is helping to find the CEO becomes it themselves, I don't like that part of it too much,' he said on SEN on Wednesday morning. 

Watson had previously waxed lyrical about Thorburn's 'great leadership qualities', but backtracked after the controversy.

'I had no idea about his background and his beliefs and all those other associated things, in fact I had no idea about his NAB background which I've read more about,' he said when talking on SEN alongside Lloyd. 

'Clearly the process wasn't rigorous enough and it wasn't robust enough and the due diligence that needed to be applied to it wasn't there.' 

Former Essendon great-turned-commentator Tim Watson (left, pictured with weather presenter Jane Bunn) has also slammed the club for the turn of events

Former Essendon great-turned-commentator Tim Watson (left, pictured with weather presenter Jane Bunn) has also slammed the club for the turn of events

High-profile footy identity Paul Little, who was chairman of Essendon during the turbulent supplements scandal period, also expressed his concern with the process.

'That appears outwardly to be a conflict ... In this situation the feeling seems to be that clarity, that level of engagement, that should have been there but wasn't,' Little told News Corp on Wednesday.

Thorburn's Christian beliefs have been the main source of consternation, though. with high-profile fans and pundits, particularly those who are members of the LGBTQI+ community, ripping into the club as soon as his appointment was announced.

Thorburn is chairman of City on a Hill, a church that condemns homosexuality and has an article on its website from 2013 titled 'Surviving Same Sex Attraction as a Christian'.

'If you struggle with same-sex attraction, it is vital to speak to a mature Christian whom you trust, so you can receive the support and accountability you will need in the long term to survive these temptations,' the article reads.

The City on a Hill Church has several locations in Victoria and has published hard-line views on abortion and homosexuality online

The City on a Hill Church has several locations in Victoria and has published hard-line views on abortion and homosexuality online

Another sermon published in 2013, but still on the church's website this week, compared the 'freedom' of abortion to the Jewish holocaust. 

'Today we look back at [with] sadness and disgust over concentration camps, future generations will look back with sadness at the legal murder of hundreds of thousands human beings every day through medicine.' 

It quickly became clear, after a swift backlash, those views would not align with a footy club - particularly one that features queer AFLW players. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, pictured with wife Catherine, criticised Essendon, who he supports as a fan, for their choice of CEO

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, pictured with wife Catherine, criticised Essendon, who he supports as a fan, for their choice of CEO

Port Phillip Deputy Mayor Tim Baxter was one of many Essendon fans renouncing the club on Tuesday.

'I urge anyone who cares about queer rights to resign also,' Baxter wrote on Twitter. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also labelled the church's views 'absolutely appalling' but did admit he would continue to support Essendon and renew his membership.

'That kind of intolerance, that kind of hatred, bigotry. It's just wrong,' Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.

'I hope we (Essendon) can get ourselves on the back page of the paper a bit more often than we're on the front page.' 

Shadow premier Matthew Guy rebuked Andrews for his comments on the Essendon situation, saying it was none of a politician's business who an AFL club hired and fired

Shadow premier Matthew Guy rebuked Andrews for his comments on the Essendon situation, saying it was none of a politician's business who an AFL club hired and fired

Andrews came in for a stern rebuke from the state shadow premier, Matthew Guy, however, who insisted it really wasn't his business. 

'What, are we now banning people from going to church, banning people from going to a synagogue, banning people from going to a mosque? This is ridiculous,' Guy said on 3AW.

'Football clubs can hire who they choose. I don't see, if I was the premier, why I would be telling people who they can hire and fire; why would you?' 

That being said, the Bombers are also facing criticism for the fact that his views were pretty widely known.

Essendon's statement 

The Board of the Essendon Football Club has accepted the resignation of Andrew Thorburn as CEO.

As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor, at the City of the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a Club.

Essendon is committed to providing an inclusive, diverse and a safe Club, where everyone is welcome and respected.

The Board made clear that, despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as Chairman, he couldn’t continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon Football Club and as Chairman of City on the Hill.

The Board respects Andrew’s decision.

We are deeply committed to our values and support wholeheartedly the work of the AFL in continuing to stamp out any discrimination based on race, sex, religion, gender, sexual identity or orientation, or physical or mental disability.

I want to stress that neither the board nor Andrew was aware of the comments from the 2013 sermon until we read about them this morning. I also want to stress that this is not about vilifying anyone for their personal religious

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