Hawthorn premiership star Chris Langford has lambasted the club’s current board for its tactics amid the club’s election, labelling some methods akin to “Putin’s playbook”.
The presidency is up for grabs in the election, with outgoing Jeff Kennett’s endorsed nominee Peter Nankivell challenged by 1991 premiership player Andy Gowers.
Hawthorn’s current board has used its social media platform, club website and membership database to encourage voters to support the endorsed candidate, but given little opportunity to their rivals to communicate their stances.
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It’s a tactic Langford took significant issue with when speaking to the Herald Sun.
“I don’t want to tell people how to vote or what to think. That is not my go. But I am particularly concerned where effectively the current board and president have suppressed opposition or any dissent,” he said.
“They are effectively state-controlled media in how they use their own database and messaging. It is a members’ resource. If they want to use that for electioneering they should offer that to all people putting their hat in the ring.
“It is an asset that belongs to the club and therefore the members. It is not for propaganda purposes. It is for marketing, general communication and messaging. It is an asset to be protected and not abused. The fact members have been given the ramblings and musings of the president (Jeff Kennett) from time to time, it has become this plaything.
“The fact the nominations closed the day they came out, they have tried to suppress opposition. It is straight out of Putin’s playbook. Suppress opposition and control the media.”
The Herald Sun previously reported Gowers only found out board positions were up for grabs on the same day that nominations closed, giving him and other candidates only hours to nominate.
Langford’s grievances with the current administration extended further, including the club’s handling of historical allegations of racism.
“Their absolute silence on the Indigenous (First Nations) review and report, their lack of preparedness to act on anything, their lack of accountability, their absence of commentary on important issues, was horrifying to me and any Hawthorn person,” he said.
“They have been happy to have people named and shamed but they haven’t wanted to own anything. As an organisation you would want to appear a lot more conciliatory and welcoming to a lot more people than the way they have gone about it, saying, ‘It didn’t happen on my watch so I don’t want to talk about it’.”