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Battling Bombers turn to external review

Ben Rutten's future as Essendon coach will be decided by an external review of the football department as the embattled AFL club's new leadership weighs up a late bid for Alastair Clarkson.

Former media executive David Barham has taken over as Bombers president from Paul Brasher, who resigned on Monday but will remain on the board until his term ends next year.

The off-field change followed a second board meeting within 24 hours, after a disastrous 84-point thumping from Port Adelaide on Sunday.

It was a second consecutive embarrassing loss for the 15th-placed Bombers, who suffered a 27-point defeat to loss to lowly GWS the previous week.

Brasher was one of Rutten's biggest supporters through an internal review of the Bombers' football department -- led mid-year by football director Sean Wellman -- and his move to step down as president cast doubt over the coach's future.

On Monday, Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell said he has not spoken to four-time Hawthorn premiership mastermind Clarkson, who has been linked to the Bombers coaching role if Rutten departs.

Clarkson, who left the Hawks last year, is weighing up an offer from North Melbourne and has also been in talks with GWS.

Rutten is nearing the end of his second year as Essendon coach and is contracted for 2023.

The 39-year-old has a 17-26 record in charge and has presided over a disappointing 2022 campaign, in which the Bombers have gone backwards from last year's finals appearance.

Campbell confirmed Rutten will stay as coach for the time being.

"Ben's the coach of our footy club," Campbell told reporters.

"As you guys (the media) are aware, there are ongoing discussions at board level and they will continue this week."

Campbell added: "There's an ambition to drive improvement and make our football program the best program it can be."

The findings of Essendon's mid-year internal review -- the second of its kind in three seasons -- were presented to the club board two weeks ago.

The board has since "formed the view on the need for additional external inputs, which will now take place under the scope of an external review".

Barham, who takes over as president after seven years on the board, acknowledged Essendon's on-field failure over the past two decades and declared the external review a "line in the sand moment" for the 150-year-old club.

"We need to place a laser-like focus on our football performance above everything else," Barham said in a statement.

"We need to build a platform, that will bring us sustainable success.

"The view of the board is that we cannot continue to only review ourselves and hope that things will change.

"Whilst the (internal) review was thorough and well done, the board has determined that our club needs further external aspects added into our analysis.

"We need to accept where we are, look hard at what best practice in AFL football is, reset, and then begin our fight back to winning premierships.

"No one is underestimating the task at hand, but it must start sometime and today is the day."

After Sunday's thrashing from Port Adelaide, Rutten remained adamant he could turn the Bombers' fortunes around.

But he admitted the "embarrassing" performance was not one Essendon could not tolerate.

"Certainly it's not a great result in terms of tonight's performance, no question about that," Rutten told reporters.

"It's about us being really strong and really clear as a footy club and as a group of players about where we're going and what we're trying to build.

"It's never going to be smooth sailing, clean progression to becoming a great team, but performances like that, it's not stuff that we can tolerate or accept and we won't."

The announcement of the external review will please the likes of Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd, who said the Bombers "couldn't be any further" from being a great football club.

"It's been a disaster of a season ... when you play with no spirit, and you play with no heart, it's the way you lose," Lloyd told AFL Media.

"That (Port Adelaide game) was as bad a loss as you could ever imagine with the lack of spirit, the lack of defensive pressure that they played with and that'll fall on the coach.

"You'd expect something has to give, whether it's at board level, administration level, the coaching staff. You just can't accept performances like that."