Ross Lyon’s job is hanging in the balance. Picture: Danella Bevis
Ross Lyon’s job is hanging in the balance. Picture: Danella Bevis

‘Bombshell’: club moves on harassment coach

FREMANTLE has reportedly made a move to prepare a replacement for embattled coach Ross Lyon over the club's sexual harassment scandal.

A "bombshell" report on Friday morning claimed the club had already made the first move to appoint former assistant coach and West Coast legend Peter Sumich as head coach - if Lyon's tenure is discontinued.

Lyon's coaching future has been left to hang for more than a week after it was first reported he was the man at the centre of the club's sexual harassment, hush-money scandal.

Earlier this week, the Herald Sun reported Lyon followed a female staff member around at a boozy club function and made a series of crude remarks to her.

The report said Lyon told the woman he liked her "budding boobs".

The report claims the woman's official complaint against Lyon was settled when a payment of more than $100,000 was made to the woman. The settlement also reportedly included a non-disclosure agreement.

On Thursday night it emerged that a second complaint of inappropriate behaviour has been made against a Fremantle official - although the staff member has not yet been publicly identified.

The storm engulfing Fremantle is growing, with the club referring the second complaint about an employee to the AFL's integrity unit.

The club is reportedly at breaking point following a report on Friday that Lyon will cease to coach the club and West Australian U18 team coach Sumich will be given the top job.

The Herald Sun's Sam Edmund told SEN Breakfast that Fremantle might replace Lyon with his former right-hand man.

"Ross Lyon is in a fair bit of hot water and under a fair bit of pressure," Edmund said.

"We are hearing that such is the pressure on Ross Lyon, the club is lining up Peter Sumich as a potential replacement.


Ross Lyon is still yet to confirm his involvement in the scandal.
Ross Lyon is still yet to confirm his involvement in the scandal.

"Ironically, Sumich quit the club in 2016 saying he was changing as a person and Ross was hard, they had their blow-ups. They had a really heated blow-up actually, that a lot of witnesses at the time thought might become physical.

"Sumich was overlooked for the Essendon job, he was overlooked in favour of Adam Simpson at West Coast, and he has knocked back a whole heap of assistant roles since."

Sumich was an assistant coach at Freo from 2011 until 2016 before he quit over a falling-out with Lyon.

He reportedly applied for the Essendon coaching job subsequently handed to John Worsfold, before knocking back a series of offers to join AFL rivals as an assistant coach.

Despite no official word from the club surrounding the future of Lyon, AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley believes the coach's tenure at the helm could have run its course.

"Ross Lyon's job is in jeopardy tonight, depending on how this pans out," Whateley said on Thursday night.

"(If it's not a legitimate complaint,) then he'll be fine once it's investigated by the AFL."

Chief Herald Sun writer Mark Robinson backed up Whateley's thoughts.

"This doesn't sound good. I don't know if it's not good, but it doesn't sound good or look good. You wouldn't want a third," Robinson said on AFL 360.

"It's (his job) in more jeopardy than it was three months ago."

The club didn't say whether Lyon was the subject of the second complaint as well, which was made over the past week.

Dockers president Dale Alcock said the man who made the complaint didn't want to take the matter further.

However, Fremantle has still sent the matter to the AFL's integrity unit to be investigated.

Peter Sumich walked away from a job in the AFL.
Peter Sumich walked away from a job in the AFL.

"We will co-operate fully with any investigation that is undertaken as part of this process," Alcock said in the statement.

The drama surrounding Fremantle has led  major sponsors  Woodside and Programmed to  urge the Dockers to demonstrate respect and transparency for staff, players, members, and the public.

Fremantle's brand has been tarnished by the controversy.

Several emergency board meetings have reportedly been held over the past week.

- with AAP