Outgoing Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett concedes his public criticism of Victoria’s state government has cost the AFL club $15 million in funding for its new headquarters.
The Hawks this week announced a deal with ADCO Constructions to build the Kennedy Community Centre at Dingley Village in Melbourne’s south-east.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Jeff Kennett tees off on James Merlino.
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The facility will cost about $100 million, with a portion to be paid for by the club’s recent sale of two gaming venues.
There is also federal government and local council funding committed to the project.
But famously combative Liberal elder Kennett’s repeated attacks on Labor politicians – slammed as “late-night tweets” by Hawks presidential candidate Andy Gowers – has led to state government funding being withheld.
“It’s been earmarked but it hasn’t been allocated, and we’ve been waiting for that to happen,” Kennett told SEN on Friday.
“(The $15 million) has been designated but not handed over.
“I’ve got to be quite honest … it’s because I, from time to time, have been known to be critical of the state government – just from time to time.”
Despite Kennett’s antagonistic political commentary, Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves this week said the club remains optimistic the state government will come through with the $15 million in funding.
Gowers, a 1991 premiership defender and former Hawthorn board member, is challenging president elect Peter Nankivell at the club’s election.
A president to succeed Kennett will be announced at the Hawks’ annual general meeting on December 13.
Kennett, who has backed Nankivell, has previously accused the Gowers camp of lacking diversity and attempting to return Hawthorn to “boys club” status.
On Friday, he used a radio interview as the platform to launch another attack on Gowers.
“I feel sorry for Andy. Look, he’s a nice guy but he’s not connected,” Kennett said.
“He hasn’t even taken out a membership of the club. When he left the board in 2018, he let his membership go.
“He only paid a membership fee last year when he thought he was going to stand for the board last year, and he still hasn’t paid for this year.”
Kennett also claimed the Gowers camp had not offered any points of difference in policy to entice members to vote for them.
“If you’re standing for something, there should be an alternative plan or there should be an improvement on what you’re doing,” Kennett said.
“But just to attack personalities is not right and it’s not fair.”
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