Outgoing Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says Fremantle should be congratulated for its clinical execution of the Ross Lyon defection.

“I think it was a wonderfully played out exercise,” Kennett said.

“I loved the clinical nature of it, and I loved the fact that none of the media got a sniff of it.”

Asked how he would have felt if Hawthorn had lost coach Alastair Clarkson to similar circumstances, Kennett replied: “That would have been our fault if we were the victim of a coup and we wanted to keep someone.

“We’re not playing with fairies at the bottom of the garden; we’re living in a very real commercial world.”

Kennett, 63, will end his six-year tenure as Hawthorn president confident of the club’s long-term viability.

He will be replaced by businessman Andrew Newbold in December.

But in a parting shot at the AFL, Kennett said as many as nine other clubs had become “technically insolvent” under its watch.

He said the unresolved pay dispute between the league and its players was evidence of misplaced priorities.

“I don’t think the AFL or the AFL Commission give sufficient recognition and time of thought to the viability of the clubs,” he said.

“If it had been me – and if I had any say or any influence – I would have got the structure and the financial model for the clubs right before I worried about other component parts.

“But that’s not the way it has been handled and now we’ve got this awful situation where the players and the AFL are at loggerheads.

“Clubs are going to start next year with at least more than half of them dependent on financial handouts … therefore they’re technically in administration.

“My greatest concern is that the fundamental financial model for the code is wrong. The priority should be to get 18 solvent, business-like units being clubs, so that they can then service the members.”

Kennett is pushing for club boards that constantly fail to meet standards to be sacked and replaced with AFL-appointed experts.

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