North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has broken his silence on the Hawthorn racism saga after the terms of the inquiry were set late last week.
Meanwhile, former Hawthorn teammate Chris Fagan will return to his coaching duties in Brisbane from Wednesday.
A four-judge panel led by barrister Bernard Quinn KC will look into allegations of misconduct by Clarkson, Fagan and others during their time at the Hawks in the early to mid-2010s.
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The planned termination date was set for December 2022 after alleged mistreatment of First Nations players and their families.
Clarkson issued two statements about the allegations in late September, saying he had “serious concerns” about a fair trial and denying any wrongdoing.
Back from an overseas trip that included a week in Scotland with Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, a four-time premiership coach spoke to Nine News at Melbourne Airport on Monday.
“It took a long time to get through it (setting conditions). At least now we have a platform from which we can get a chance to tell our side of the story,” Clarkson said.
“Fages (Chris Fagan), myself and Jason (Burt, then Hawks player development manager) have been through a difficult period over the last four weeks but we are delighted that they have identified a platform with which we can reveal the truths behind it and then we’ll let it go.’
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On Tuesday night, the Lions board ruled out Fagan’s return from vacation after the former Hawks general manager of football voluntarily resigned when the allegations first surfaced.
“The Brisbane Lions Board have agreed that Chris Fagan will continue as head coach from Wednesday 26 October 2022,” the club said in a statement.
“This follows the release of terms of reference by the AFL for an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct at Hawthorn Football Club.”
“The committee will grant Chris any future leave necessary to participate in the investigation.”
Clarkson is expected to be welcomed to the Kangaroos in time for his previously scheduled start on November 1.
There were seven reported on Tuesday evening the North Melbourne board ticked off Clarkson’s entry to the club weeks after the national draft.
AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said on Tuesday there was “no reason at this stage” why Clarkson and Fagan could not return to their clubs while the investigation continued.
“Bottom line, our most significant commitment that we have to deal with in the near future is the investigation. Fages, Jason and I have always said from the start that we will fully cooperate with whatever the AFL puts in place,” Clarkson said.
“I need to speak to our lawyers but also the AFL and the club. If we get an opportunity somewhere to go back to work then that would be great too, but our priority is to make sure we co-operate with the investigation.’
It is still unknown whether the Hawthorne family, who made the allegations, will attend the inquest.
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