Power play: Craig ‘Ned’ Kelly tipped to become Collingwood CEO
Influential player agent and Collingwood premiership player Craig Kelly is the favourite to be appointed as the Magpies’ new chief executive .
Multiple Collingwood insiders and industry sources expect Kelly, the head of powerful athlete management agency and sports marketing company TLA, to become available and take up the vacant position in the new year.
Player agent and Collingwood 1990 premiership player Craig Kelly. Credit:Getty Images
Kelly is on long service leave from TLA but has not yet quit the company, which he originally founded before selling it.
Sources said they expected Kelly to begin at Collingwood before the 2023 season. A key Magpie source said there were other candidates and Kelly was not certain to land the job given he is still employed by TLA.
Typically, a figure in Kelly’s position would be subject to post-employment non-compete restrictions within the AFL industry.
Collingwood’s Craig Kelly tangles with Carlton captain Stephen Kernahan. Greg Williams lies on the ground.Credit:Vince Caligiuri, The Age
One of Kelly’s sons, Will, is on the Magpies’ list, while his other son, Jake, plays for Essendon, but having a son on the list would not be a conflict impeding his potential appointment. Hawthorn CEO Justin Reeves’ son, Ned, is a ruckman at Hawthorn.
With the backing of the board, Collingwood president Jeff Browne is running the search for the replacement for former CEO Mark Anderson, who left the club earlier this month.
The Kelly move would be a significant shake-up to the AFL ecosystem as TLA is easily the largest player management company, with more than 300 AFL players on its books and significant contracts for marketing and events management with the AFL itself.
In effect, Kelly has been an influential figure at Collingwood for years with multiple connections to key Collingwood people, having been the manager and close confidante of former coach and champion player Nathan Buckley.
He was an immediate and strong supporter of president Jeff Browne when the former Channel Nine boss launched his bid for the presidency of Collingwood in the post-Eddie McGuire period, replacing Mark Korda, who served one season in the job.
Kelly was a 1990 premiership teammate of Graham Wright, the club’s head of football and who is currently acting CEO.
TLA also has a range of Collingwood clients, including senior coach Craig McRae and assistants Justin Leppitsch and Brendon Bolton, as well as players Brayden Maynard, Jamie Elliott and, of course, Will Kelly.
Kelly was one of the pioneers in the field of player management in Australian football, and launched his initial company more than 30 years ago.
Kelly could not be reached for comment.
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