Edmonton Elks cleaned the house on Monday after a tumultuous season with problems on and off the pitch.
The team fired president Chris Presson, general manager Brock Sunderland and head coach Jamie Elizondo.
Ian Murray, the team’s chairman of the board of directors, said: “Critical issues on and off the field necessitate changes at the senior leadership level to correct the shortfalls and build on that. restore the trust and confidence of the Elks fans and community,” said Ian Murray, the team’s board chairman.
He said the three were notified of their contract termination early Monday morning.
The Elks lost their final game 43-10 to the BC Lions on Friday and finished the season with three wins and 11 losses, and no home win.
“Not having a home win puts everyone in a very good mood,” said Murray.
Murray said the team “received unprecedented irritation” from fans due to issues surrounding ticket sales and the match day experience.
They also had the CFL’s worst COVID-19 outbreak of the season when more than a dozen team members tested positive for the disease.
“Some issues are operational, some are purely business issues,” says Murray.
The team hopes to have both a new general manager and president by mid-January.
Team presidents are typically tasked with hiring a general manager, but Murray said the free agency opening in February means two positions will be filled at the same time.
Calgary Stampeders veteran and BC Lions coach and general manager Wally Buono will hold transitional roles until a new general manager is appointed.
Presson declined to comment when contacted by phone. He was hired in 2019 and oversaw a team name change that was hastened by a sponsor backlash in the summer of 2020.
Murray said the rollout of the new team name went well, citing bumper merchandise sales, but that team demographics were “brutal” and largely comprised of older white men. .
“It’s not representative of our community,” he said. “We have a structural, long-term trend that matters.”
Last December, the team announced that it had extended his contract with Sunderland until 2023. He has faced some controversy during his tenure.
The team is still in dispute with a former office worker who alleges he was improperly fired after rejecting multiple requests from Sunderland about the league’s salary cap.
In September 2020, the team let equipment director Dwayne Mandrusiak spend his 49th season with the team, a move that drew outrage from fans.
Last month, a former player was fired from his role on the team’s radio show on 630 CHED after he made comments critical of Sunderland.
Edmonton failed to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time since 2018 and the failure to win has sent fans away in record numbers. Only two of the seven home matches attended by more than 30,000 people at the Commonwealth.
Murray said there are “a lot of negative things that the board is very concerned about” but it is also “inappropriate” to choose a reason to overhaul the office.
“There’s no simple answer to what happened,” he said. “We are committed to fixing problems both on and off the pitch.”