Following months of in-fighting and intrigue, Jeff Browne has been charged with leading Collingwood out of the most tumultuous period in the AFL club’s recent history.
The corporate powerbroker and former Nine Network boss was appointed president of the Magpies in a unanimous vote at Friday morning’s board meeting, with existing directors Jodie Sizer and Paul Licuria to serve as vice-presidents.
It follows Thursday night’s club annual general meeting, where it was announced that Browne and his ticket had been elected to the board.
Barry Carp and Renee Roberts were also elected from the 11 candidates and Christine Holgate was re-elected, joining Sizer, Licuria and outgoing president Mark Korda on the board.
Browne’s appointment means Collingwood will have their fourth president in less than 12 months, after his close friend Eddie McGuire ended his 22-year reign in February.
McGuire stood down after a backlash to his comments about the “Do Better” report into systemic racism at the club.
Korda and Peter Murphy initially took over as co-presidents, with Murphy deciding not to seek re-election.
The past few months have been marked by threats of board challenges and member-led emergency general meetings, though the final steps of Browne’s takeover this week were ultimately straightforward.
Browne, who served the AFL for 22 years as its external lawyer and is a life member of the league, has several key areas to address immediately.
On the field, the Magpies are looking to rebound from a disastrous 2021 season that cost club great Nathan Buckley his job as coach.
New coach Craig McRae and the club are dealing with the future of star Jordan De Goey, who has been stood down after an incident at a New York nightclub in late October.
List management is another ongoing concern amid salary cap pressure, which caused the infamous trade period fire sale last year.
Behind the scenes, Browne faces a showdown with the AFL over cuts to the football department soft cap and annual financial distribution to clubs.
The AFL has reduced its minimum distribution to clubs from $10 million to $8 million, with the wealthy Magpies, Hawthorn, Richmond and West Coast to receive the bare minimum amount.
At Thursday night’s AGM, Korda criticised the league over the move, which will cost Collingwood $2 million a year.
“We are bitterly disappointed in that and Mark Anderson and I strenuously argued it was unfair but (to no avail),” Korda said.
“We are bitterly disappointed that the faster we run and the faster we cycle the quicker the AFL takes it from us.”
Browne is the 14th president in Collingwood club history.
His tenure is unlikely to last anywhere near as long as McGuire’s reign, given the Collingwood board is reviewing its constitution amid a move to have the president serve a maximum of six years.
Directors could also have their time capped at three terms of three years.