New Essendon president David Barham has admitted mistakes were made as the Bombers left embattled coach Ben Rutten in the dark during their botched pursuit of Alastair Clarkson.
- Essendon had chased Alastair Clarkson to replace Ben Rutten as coach
- Rutten is contracted through to the end of the 2023 season
- New Essendon president David Barham says the club did not treat Rutten with respect
The Bombers this week audaciously attempted to lure Clarkson, the four-time Hawthorn premiership coach, as Rutten's position hung in the balance.
However, North Melbourne announced on Friday morning that it had landed Clarkson's signature on a five-year contract.
Rutten is contracted for the next season but his position now appears untenable after a week of chaos at the Bombers.
The 39-year-old's future will be decided after the Bombers' final regular-season match against Richmond on Saturday night.
Barham — who replaced Paul Brasher as Bombers president on Monday — described the situation as “really horrible”.
“I should have called [Rutten on] Monday, and I apologise for that,” Barham told reporters in Melbourne.
“I called him Tuesday, went and saw him at his house on Wednesday. I got that wrong.
“Players are disappointed they weren't more consulted and, again, I have to live with that.”
Alastair Clarkson has signed with the Kangaroos for five years.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)
Barham would not be drawn on speculation that Bombers hierarchy are floating the idea of James Hird returning as coach, seven years after the Bombers great left amid the fallout of Essendon's supplements saga.
Rutten's manager, Adam Ramanauskas, had earlier hit out at the treatment of the Bombers coach.
Ramanauskas — who played in Essendon's last premiership back in 2000 — said he was staggered by how his former club has handled the situation.
He labelled the treatment of Rutten “poor” and “really disappointing”.
Ramanauskas claimed the Bombers had failed to inform Rutten of their intentions.
“It's fair to say Monday and half of Tuesday were pretty difficult days because no one was telling [Rutten] what was going on,” Ramanauskas told RSN radio.
“He was reading on Monday he was sacked, and there was nobody who was telling him otherwise.”
On Thursday, Clarkson expressed embarrassment and regret about how his move back into AFL coaching had played out.
“With the situation around 'Truck' [Rutten], he's still got a year of his contract to run, and it's quite embarrassing being the centre of attention in a situation that is just so difficult for both him and his club,” Clarkson told Ten News.