‘That’s not why I left Saints’
Former St Kilda coach Ross Lyon has brushed off suggestions a dispute over a pay cut was his motivation to walk out on the club last year.
Lyon quit the Saints after he was headhunted by Fremantle to become its senior coach last September, taking the football world by surprise.
He was contracted to the Saints for 2012 but exercised an out clause to take up a long-term offer with Fremantle.
In an extend interview on Fox Footy’s On The Couch program, Lyon refused to elaborate on suggestions that a major part of his decision to leave St Kilda was based on a re-worked contract offering less money.
“I’m not sure that’s relevant. I’m not sure that’s in the public domain. I haven’t put that in the public domain, have I?” Lyon said in response to the suggestion of a pay cut.
Last year on Thursday, September 15, news broke that senior coach Mark Harvey had been sacked by Fremantle and Lyon would be his replacement.
Lyon said the decision had been swift and as recently as two days earlier he had been committed to coach the Saints in 2012.
“I didn’t wake up one morning thinking I want to hurt the St Kilda Football Club. It didn’t occur. I was certainly committed until when I was emotionally out in the middle of that week which was basically the Wednesday,” he said.
“Up until the Tuesday night I was still the St Kilda coach.”
Lyon confirmed his first contact with Fremantle about the position came when Fremantle CEO Steve Rosich rang him on September 4, six days before St Kilda’s first final and what turned out to be Lyon’s last game as coach of the Saints.
But Lyon said he refused to discuss the offer until the Saints’ 2011 campaign was over.
Lyon also refuted suggestions that the appointment of Chris Pelchen as St Kilda’s head of football played a part in his reason for leaving.
“I encouraged the Pelchen appointment, not so much Chris, but I certainly rubber-stamped it and was involved along the way,” he said.
“But I certainly drove that structure along with Michael (St Kilda CEO Michael Nettlefold) because St Kilda were the 14th highest spenders in the football department.
“I think it’s remiss to suggest I wasn’t encouraging and I laughed with mirth when (it was said) it was going to end in tears because Chris Pelchen was appointed. I think it’s ridiculous.”
Lyon said he could understand why people were affronted at the secrecy surrounding his move, but he said he acted the only way he could.
“I live in the real world, I understand it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t to everybody’s taste. I certainly conducted myself in the manner it needed to be,” he said.
“There was certainly confidentiality. The press was shocked that nobody knew and there were only really five people involved in negotiations.”