Andrew Thorburn has resigned from his role as chief executive at Essendon barely 24 hours into the job, after his ties to a church which condemned homosexuality and abortion caused uproar.
“As soon as the comments relating to a 2013 sermon from a pastor at the City on the Hill church came to light this morning, we acted immediately to clarify the publicly espoused views on the organisation’s official website, which are in direct contradiction to our values as a club,” an Essendon statement said.
The former National Australia Bank boss currently acts as chairman for the controversial church and offered his resignation after Essendon gave him an ultimatum about being unable to work in both capacities.
“The board made clear that, despite these not being views that Andrew Thorburn has expressed personally and that were also made prior to him taking up his role as chairman, he couldn’t continue to serve in his dual roles at the Essendon football club and as chairman of City on the Hill,” the statement continued.
The extraordinary turn of events continues a turbulent time for the club, with Thorburn only due to officially take over on November 1st.
The Bombers announced on Monday that the former NAB boss would succeed Xavier Campbell, after Thorburn had originally been brought on board to conduct an external review of the club.
Club president Dave Barham labelled his eventual appointment as CEO as a “significant step forward”.
“In Andrew, we have secured a highly credentialed leader, with a proven track record in development and building the leadership capabilities of his people,” Barham said.
“Whilst he initially came to the club on a short-term basis to coordinate the external review, we believed we couldn’t overlook someone of his calibre and that he needed to be tested within our process against the field of candidates.”
However, the news of his appointment was met with an almost immediate backlash with Victorian Premier and “disappointed Essendon fan” Daniel Andrews chief among those to criticise Thorburn’s appointment.
Acting CEO Nick Ryan will oversee the club in his current role whilst the Bombers begin the process of finding a new CEO to take charge.