Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

The Bombers have quietly made a big signing while languishing in 16th position on the AFL ladder.

CEO Xavier Campbell’s contract was set to expire at the end of the season, but the board has signed him for a further two seasons, 7NEWS can reveal.

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The board is continuing to back the strategic plan that’s built around the Bombers winning a flag by 2026.

It will be added relief for coach Ben Rutten given Campbell was the man who oversaw and endorsed the John Worsfold, Rutten succession plan two years ago.

The development left Essendon fans fuming on Tuesday night, with many responding to 7NEWS ‘story by declaring it was a sign that the club was accepting mediocrity given the 2-7 start to the season.

“If you accept mediocrity, that’s what you’ll get. 2026? Only 26 years between flags. More like they’ve put up the white flag, ”Anthony Whellum wrote.

Xaxier Campbell (L) has had his contract at the club extended.
Xaxier Campbell (L) has had his contract at the club extended. Credit: Getty

“Won’t go down well with the Essendon faithful,” Twitter user James Lo wrote.

“Please we have to do something about this club, the board need to go! This appointment can not be allowed to happen, ”wrote Dave.

“Clearly they do not care about what our members think,” Kristy wrote.

“Here’s me about to ask Xavier Campbell if he’d do the right thing & resign … and then we get this,” Nick wrote.

Bombers’ slump can galvanize team: Heppell

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell expects the battling club to come “flying out” of its tough period should their AFL fortunes take a turn for the better.

The Bombers (2-7) have been the subject of fierce criticism after a thrashing from Sydney in Heppell’s 200th game left them languishing in 16th spot on the ladder.

In the fallout, club legend Matthew Lloyd slammed Essendon’s current players for being “walked all over” and “disrespected” by the Swans.

Heppell concedes he sounds “overly optimistic” but insists there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve been through periods like this and if you approach it in the right way, you have the right mindset and you stick together, you come flying out of these periods,” Heppell told Fox Footy.

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell.
Dyson Heppell says history shows Essendon are capable of arresting their dramatic AFL slide. Credit: AAP

“You learn so much and you’re more galvanized as a playing list, so no doubt I firmly believe that will happen.

“It may sound repetitive, but history has shown when we’ve been in periods like this we have bounced out of them.”

Essendon recovered from a 2-6 start in 2021 to reach the finals, where they lost in week one.

“We had a season last year where we stood for a real identity and everyone was right behind us,” Heppell said.

“We had this wave of momentum coming and I have every faith that we can get back to that.

“You see times like Richmond in the past, Melbourne getting questioned a lot of times, and within the space of half a season or 12 months they’s premiership clubs.

“Some of the best teams go through this.”

Essendon now prepare for the annual ‘Dreamtime’ clash with Richmond at the MCG.

Luke Parker mocked Dylan Shiel and the Bombers.
Luke Parker mocked Dylan Shiel and the Bombers. Credit: Channel 7

Heppell says the Bombers will not shy away from the fact they put in another disappointing performance against Sydney, in which they laid just 30 tackles.

“We want to work on that, we’re going to go to work,” Heppell said.

“I know (people) say we’ve been saying these things, but we will. We’ll bury in and we’ll get better.

“I have full trust in the playing group, the character of the group, the belief that we have in each other.

“But when you’re going through periods and you’re trying to seek validation from results and they’re just not coming, you do tend to lack confidence, with a lot of young players in the group as well.”

Essendon had some sorely needed good news on Tuesday when young gun Archie Perkins re-signed for two years.

The No.9 pick in the 2020 draft was a Rising Star nominee last year and said he had loved his time at the club, despite this year’s troubles.

“We are disappointed at the moment with our on-field results, but I’m very confident that we have a core group of young players who have a lot of potential and will take this club forward,” he said in a club statement.

– With AAP


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