Former Hawthorn board member and five-times premiership hero Dermott Brereton has savaged St Kilda after they descended into complete chaos yesterday with the shock sacking of senior coach Scott Watters.
Port Adelaide's 2004 premiership coach Mark Williams is an early favourite to replace Watters. The Saints' dual Brownlow medallist Robert Harvey, now a senior assistant with Collingwood, was also linked to the job.
Fremantle assistant Peter Sumich will not be a candidate.
And late last night former West Coast coach John Worsfold told _The West Australian _ from New York he was highly unlikely to be a contender.
Watters, who had a year to run on a three-year contract, was summoned from a coaches meeting yesterday morning to be told he was being axed.
The sacking came less than three hours after Watters had gone on Melbourne radio station SEN at his own request, and without the club's approval, declaring he had the support of the board.
He had denied continuing rumours of a rift with St Kilda's head of football Chris Pelchen and claimed president Peter Summers had assured his future.
Summers refused to reveal why Watters had been sacked after the board had twice assured him his job was safe last month.
Brereton, a close friend of Watters from their playing days together at Sydney, took aim at Pelchen and labelled the Saints the joke of the competition.
"Thank God for St Kilda because 17 clubs are going to win before them," Brereton told SEN.
"There's a reason why they win one premiership every 140 years that they participate. They are the most poorly led - from the top - club. That requires the board and the staff of the football department to run the ship. It's the blind leading the blind there."
There had been speculation that senior players were upset by Watters' management style.
Summers denied there was unrest among players but did admit there had been tension between Watters and Pelchen.
Pelchen worked at Port Adelaide and Hawthorn previously. His stint at the Hawks was at the same time Brereton served as a director. Brereton accused Pelchen of going behind people's backs and taking credit for work he didn't do. He said Pelchen would never work for another AFL club.
"What you've got is a bloke who by all records says that he put together the Port Adelaide list, you've got a bloke who said he came to Hawthorn and gave them Buddy Franklin, yet it was Gary Buckenara who did," he said.
"There are a lot of myths in footy and we're talking about one of them. This is a pathetic decision driven by a certain sector in the football department that is cancerous.
"The three strong people who opposed him (Watters, football manager Greg Hutchison and senior assistant coach Dean Laid- ley) are no longer there. Chris wants to make sure of his job because I guarantee you, the word has gone around. He won't get another one elsewhere."
Summers, who became president on September 6, said the Saints had not approached anyone about replacing Watters but hoped to have a new coach before the national draft on November 21.
Pelchen worked closely with Williams at Port Adelaide, fuelling speculation that he was the most likely successor to Watters.
St Kilda will start pre-season training next week.
The sacking of Watters will leave the Saints facing a payout expected to be about $500,000.
It comes on top of the departures of Laidley to Carlton, fitness coach Bill Davoren to Collingwood and chief executive Michael Nettlefold, who has quit the club although he flanked Summers at yesterday's media conference.
The playing list has also changed dramatically. Trades for Ben McEvoy and Nick Dal Santo came on top of the retirements of Jason Blake, Justin Koschitzke and Stephen Milne.
The sacking could also have implications for former Fremantle development coach Ashley Prescott, who is understood to have agreed to take an assistant's role at the club but has not yet been contracted.
Stan Alves, Tim Watson, Malcolm Blight, Grant Thomas, Ross Lyon and Watters have coached St Kilda in the past 16 seasons."There's a reason why they win one premiership every 140 years … This is a pathetic decision …" " *Dermott Brereton *