Dear members,

This will be a fairly long letter to you all, but I think it is necessary to keep you all fully informed of what is happening at our club.

As you have heard me say publicly, and in one of my earlier letters to you, it is my intention to stand down as President of the Hawthorn Football Club at the Annual General Meeting of the club at the end of this season.

While this will be one year short of the term you elected me to fulfil two years ago, there are some compelling reasons to affect change at the end of this year.

The most of those being the club is about to enter a new and exciting phase of its life, and as I will not be here at the most beyond next year, it is best I go now to allow a new President to steer the club in the years ahead.

That new phase recognises that, by the end of this year, we will have achieved some remarkable achievements and milestones.

We have appointed a new senior coach in Sam Mitchell who is universally being accepted as delivering a new game style of football to the club, and who is highly respected by his players, coaches and members.

We are about to finally enter the AFLW competition, under Senior Coach Bec Goddard, with Season 7 starting in August.

Our VFLW team had a wonderful year, sadly bowing out in the semi-finals last week. But, having also seen 15 of our listed VFLW players exiting the program and moving into AFLW programs, the club can be immensely proud of what we achieved this season.

Our VFL team the Box Hill Hawks are still in the race to play in their finals. The club is also set to see the substantial renovations at the Box Hill ground, thanks to the support of the Whitehorse Council and the newly elected Federal Government.

In the next two weeks we will receive the submissions from the builders who are tendering to build our new home at the Kennedy Community Centre (KCC) which, all being well, will be built by the end of next year or shortly after.

We have sold our two gaming businesses at the top of the market, and the funds will be distributed between our Future Fund to generate non-football income in the future, as well as helping with the cost of building the KCC.

That said we still need to raise about $20m to deliver the KCC, but, when completed, we will be the only AFL Club to totally own its own facilities.

Hawthorn remains one of only four AFL clubs that does not require extra funding from the AFL to operate, and we intend to stay that way.

Hawthorn remains debt-free.

The one outstanding issue concerns the possibility of a Tasmanian stand-alone AFL team, and how that might affect Hawthorn.

This issue is basically a matter for the AFL and the Tasmanian Government and its community. The 18 existing AFL clubs are waiting for a detailed submission from the AFL and Tasmanian government setting out how a Tasmanian team might be established.

That document is due to be presented to the clubs before the AFL Commission and Presidents meeting in August. Only when such a document is forthcoming can club Boards consider the detail and ramifications of the proposal and a decision can be made.

To date we have said to the Tasmanian Government, after 20 years as its partner in Tasmania, that, if the decision goes their way, we at Hawthorn will do whatever we can to assist them achieve their goal.

That said, Hawthorn will, as an organisation, not move to Tassie, and our home will be at the new KCC at Dingley.

However, we all expect the decision on a Tasmanian team to be made in August.

So, if there was ever a time to pass the baton of the Presidency to a new President, the AGM at the end of this year is the appropriate time.

I am pleased to inform you that the Board has unanimously asked and supported our Vice President Peter Nankivell to become your next President.

Peter is eminently suited and best qualified to guide the Board and club into our next phase of growth and success. He knows the club, and has been making a long, selfless contribution to the club as a Board member for eight years, and as my Vice President for five years.

I have attached here the press release that we are putting out to announce the Board’s decision, so I will not go into the details here

That said, under Peter’s stewardship, I remain very confident about the Hawthorn Football Club’s strength, stability and future.

I hope all members will accept the guidance of the Board and support Peter when he offers himself for election as our President at our AGM at the end of the year.

For now, read on, and I hope you are as excited as me as to how our club is performing on and off the field. It is in safe hands.


Jeff Kennett

Hawthorn Football Club



Hawthorn Football Club has today announced that Vice President Peter Nankivell has secured the unanimous support of the Board to succeed Jeff Kennett as the President at the Annual General Meeting in December.  

Mr Nankivell has been a member of the Hawthorn Board for eight years and Vice President for the last five years. He also acted as CEO for a number of months preceding the appointment of Justin Reeves to that role. 

Mr Nankivell has been intimately involved in both the club's strategy development and the execution of that strategy. More recently, this has included the sale of the club’s gaming venues for exceptional financial returns, and prior to that, the acquisition and planning of the Kennedy Community Centre project.  

As a highly respected senior lawyer, Mr Nankivell will bring a different perspective and style of leadership to the club to ensure the interests of the members continue to remain paramount. Imperative to this is ensuring that the good governance and financial security for the club is maintained and that all employees of the club - players and staff - are provided with the environment to succeed. Mr Nankivell is the current chair of the club's Governance, Risk, Integrity and Compliance Committee.  

The Nominations Committee, of which Mr Nankivell was also the chair, conducted an extensive process to identify the next President of the Hawthorn Football Club. Candidates included board and non-board members.  

At the conclusion of this process, it was determined that none of the candidates reviewed had the requisite club experience to be President at this particular point in time. This led to the need for the Board to consider other candidates, including those who had not initially shown interest in the position.  

Mr Nankivell, who was not a candidate and did not nominate for the position, was recommended by some Independent and Board members of the Nominations Committee following their search for a successor. Subsequently, Mr Nankivell was asked by the Board to reconsider his position. After deliberations with his family, he agreed to nominate for the position of Club President.  

“It is wonderful when succession of an organisation can come from within,” President Jeff Kennett said. 

“This will ensure that the momentum behind important initiatives on and off the field can be maintained and nurtured. 

“Peter has a deep knowledge of the club and at this time has been found to be the most appropriate person to lead the club’s future development and activities. 

“Importantly Peter has a value set that will continue to build our Family Club ethos. 

“I thank the members of the Nominations Committee for the many meetings and hours of work they have contributed in the interest of the club. In particular, the non-Board members; Businessman, club benefactor and former Vice President Geoff Harris, former premiership Captain and Board member Don Scott and former premiership player and Board member Andy Gowers.”