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Schwab gone in Demons' AFL crisis
By Roger Vaughan
20:56 AEST Tue Apr 9 2013

After repeatedly dodging bullets at Melbourne, chief executive Cameron Schwab was finally made to fall on his sword.

Schwab is the Demons' first senior casualty of their appalling start to the season - a 79-point loss to Port Adelaide and Saturday night's 148-point disaster against Essendon.

Melbourne are calling it a resignation, but it was more a sacking given president Don McLardy asked Schwab to resign and the chief executive himself said he was "certainly up for the fight".

Only last year, the club reappointed Schwab on a three-year deal.

But president Don McLardy said on Tuesday that he had been speaking to unnamed people for months about Schwab.

Those conversations reached their peak in the wake of Saturday night's catastrophe.

"This has been going on for some time," McLardy said.

"We have a divided supporter base.

"Cameron, for whatever reasons - for or unfair - polarises that."

Schwab was going to lose his job on the weekend of July 30, 2011, when Geelong thrashed the Demons by 186 points.

Instead, Melbourne sacked coach Dean Bailey.

Schwab also escaped sanction over the controversial AFL investigation of Melbourne's on-field performance in 2009, when he was also chief executive.

The Demons were cleared of tanking but Bailey and Chris Connolly were suspended and the club was fined $500,000.

This time, it was Schwab's turn, with McLardy saying coach Mark Neeld was "not on notice at all".

While Schwab has helped strengthen their finances, Melbourne's prolonged poor form and the shocking start to this season put massive pressure on the club hierarchy.

The Demons called a snap media conference on Tuesday afternoon, only a day after McLardy had issued a letter to members where he promised no "radical decisions" at the club.

Schwab sat next to McLardy at the announcement and even came to his defence as the media hammered the Demons president.

Whatever the criticism heaped on him, Schwab was outstanding in his farewell.

Asked if he was a scapegoat, the long-time AFL club administrator calmly replied: "I know how the system works. I know how the game is.

"We've lost by over 200 points in the last two games and that's an unforgiving situation."

He even defended McLardy and the Melbourne board, saying they had acted responsibly.

Schwab has held senior roles at Richmond, Fremantle and Melbourne, most recently returning to the Demons in 2008 when then-president Jim Stynes asked him to be chief executive for a second time.

He worked at Melbourne for 15 years over three terms, starting there in 1981 when he joined as a teenaged office boy.

Despite his ruthless departure and Melbourne's woeful form, Schwab remained passionate and optimistic about the club's fortunes.

"When the club has its day - and it will - there will be a lot of people who will be really proud of what the club has achieved and I will certainly be one of them," he said.

Schwab will help vice-president Paul Spargo with the transition to a new chief executive.

He is unsure about staying in the game.

While Schwab was being dispatched, Neeld, other senior Demons football staff and the players had gone out of Melbourne to coastal Sorrento for a team camp.

The Demons president also stressed the AFL had no role in Schwab's departure.

"We make our own decisions on our football club," he said.