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Suspended Golden Lions head coach John Mitchell has denied allegations that he has committed any misconduct that would justify the termination of his employment and said he will welcome a disciplinary hearing, his management company have stated.
The Fordham Company – one of Australia’s leading media, sport and entertainment agencies – say that for Mitchell’s professionalism and management style to be questioned at this stage, after coaching the Lions to a 2011 Currie Cup win, raises various questions that the Lions’ management must explain in view of their unlawful and unfair action in suspending the 2011 Currie Cup-winning coach and Coach of the Year.
Mitchell’s suspension arose out of allegations made by the Lions players 10 days ago, in a letter sent to the president of the Golden Lions, Kevin de Klerk.
Mitchell is taking legal steps to address these allegations. “Any difficulties that the Lions may have internally rest with the organisation itself and cannot be attributed to John Mitchell and/or his coaching style or management,” The Fordham Company stressed.
“John believes the Lions should proceed expeditiously with a disciplinary hearing before an independent chairperson if they wish to and he welcomes the holding of such a hearing which will allow him the opportunity to vindicate his position and ventilate all necessary issues.”
The letter documented allegations dealing with Mitchell’s attitude and conduct in a team environment, including claims he was abusive, threatening and intimidating towards players.
Mitchell’s management say it is unfortunate that a number of senior people with the Lions administration have made “unjustifiable, and/or disparaging” statements against Mitchell prior to any investigation being finalised. “John is entitled to be afforded the right to defend himself and to respond to such allegations,” said a management company spokesman.
“The statements that have been made by the Lions were premature and inappropriate given that there is an internal disciplinary process that needs to take its course,” he said. “The current intense media speculation is damaging to John’s reputation and brand as one of the world’s most established and successful international rugby coaches. John will not be responding to these statements at this juncture as it would be inappropriate to do so given that this matter is currently being addressed by his legal team.”
On Wednesday, Lions acting CEO Ruben Moggee said his union would not be commenting any further on the Mitchell matter. “The case is with the lawyers and the process will be followed according to the law,” he said. Moggee added there would be no further movement before the middle of this month.
The Fordham Company referred all inquiries to Mitchell’s legal team at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, who were unavailable to answer questions. – The Star