Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan stand aside to cooperate with Hawthorn investigation

Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan will stand aside as North Melbourne and Brisbane head coaches respectively, pending an AFL investigation into the alleged mistreatment of First Nations players and their families during their time at Hawthorn.

Hours after the AFL chief executive, Gillon McLachlan, announced an external independent panel would get to the bottom of the “challenging, harrowing and disturbing” allegations contained in a Hawks-commissioned review, the Lions confirmed Fagan would take a leave of absence so he could cooperate with the investigation.

North Melbourne followed suit later on Wednesday afternoon, announcing Clarkson will not begin his role on 1 November as planned.

“The North Melbourne Football Club is aware of serious historical allegations made against individuals who worked at the Hawthorn Football Club, including incoming North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson,” a Kangaroos statement read.

“The matters raised are now with the AFL’s Integrity Unit and Alastair welcomes the opportunity to cooperate with any investigation relating to the claims.

“Alastair was due to commence work with North Melbourne on November 1 however he will delay the start of his tenure to allow time to fully participate in the investigation.”

Clarkson coached the Hawks between 2005 and 2021, overseeing a period of significant on-field success including four premierships.

Fagan worked for Hawthorn between 2008 and 2016, serving as head of coaching and development and then general manager of football, a position in which he worked closely with Clarkson.

He became Brisbane coach in 2016 and steered the Lions to this year’s preliminary finals, where they lost to Geelong last weekend.

“The Brisbane Lions are aware senior coach Chris Fagan will work with the AFL on an investigation into allegations concerning historical events at the Hawthorn Football Club, where he was a former employee,” the Lions said in a statement.

“Chris supports and welcomes the investigation. He was not consulted during the Hawthorn sponsored review and looks forward to the opportunity to be heard as part of the AFL investigation.

“The Brisbane Lions and Chris have mutually agreed that he will take a leave of absence from the club so he can fully cooperate in the investigation. As the matters are now with the AFL Integrity Unit, the Brisbane Lions won’t make any further comment at this stage.”

Fagan worked for Hawthorn between 2008 and 2016, serving as head of coaching and development and then general manager of football, a role in which he worked closely with premiership-winning head coach Alastair Clarkson.

The ABC on Wednesday reported distressing contents of the review, based on interviews with First Nations players, including an allegation that Hawthorn put pressure on one couple to terminate a pregnancy.

McLachlan fronted the media at lunchtime on Wednesday to announce an external independent panel led by a King’s Counsel to investigate what he described as “challenging, harrowing and disturbing” allegations.