After over two decades at the helm, Collingwood Football Club President Eddie McGuire has stepped down from his position effective immediately.

In a snap press conference on Tuesday, McGuire was visibly emotional when he fronted the media.

“I try my best. I don’t always get it right. But I don’t stop trying. But today I step down, effective immediately,” he said.

McGuire went on to list the Club’s achievements under his leadership, including a Dardi Munwurro healing program for Aboriginal men that saw the Club provide three residential houses and a training room at Victoria Park Community Centre for men after prison.

The outgoing President also spoke of the Barrawarn program that upskills Aboriginal community members through education and employment opportunities.

“This is why I say we are not a racist club, far from it, it is why I am so proud of our club,” McGuire said.

He went on to discuss the Club’s landmark Do Better report, which found Collingwood had fostered a culture of systemic racism and that much change was needed to address the “toxic environment”.

“I remind people that our recent review, inspired by Black Lives Matter but part of a six-year journey in our Reconciliation Action Plan, was to look to what we need to do in the next 10 years not the last,” he said.

McGuire quoted his statement from last week’s press conference on the report, saying the Board commissioned the report “for the right reasons”, and that the Club can learn from its past and strive to be better.

However, his comments at last Monday’s press conference that the report marked a “proud day” for Collingwood are what accelerated his departure from the Club.

“It is because we have so much going, so much good to do and with the interruptions and pressure from COVID-19 that I committed to continue my presidency until the end of this season,” McGuire said.

“However, I don’t think that is now either fair or tenable to the club and the community.”

“People have latched onto my opening line last week and as a result I have become a lightning rod for vitriol, but worse, have placed the club in a position where it’s hard to move forward with the implementation of our plans with clear air.

“It’s better, then, to fast track my leaving the Club from the end of the year to now.”

The President of Collingwood for 23 years, McGuire has endured many wins and losses both on and off the field throughout his tenure.

The leak of the Club’s recent Do Better report has paved the way for drastic improvement at Collingwood to reset the Club’s commitment to its First Nations community.

A spokesperson for Collingwood Football Club said the Board will meet later this week to expedite the succession plan after McGuire’s departure.

By Hannah Cross