But while Buckley backed McGuire’s right to express himself, he suggested that there was a separation of powers at the club.
“I can understand the focus on that,” Buckley said.
“And there’s been a fair bit of commentary about it. What I would say is that Ed, as the president, is entitled to make whatever he comments about the football club he wishes at any time. He does find himself in front of a microphone or a camera quite often given his role.
”The next part of that is the actual football program itself. Once the board puts people in positions, we operate quite separately to the board. And we’ve got great leadership in the football program that is responsible and accountable for on-field performance and – along with the CEO – any cultural and behavioural issues, and we deal with them as appropriately as we possibly can.”
Sidebottom, along with Jordan De Goey – who has been charged with indecent assault – have headed to Perth where they will be joined by the bulk of the Pies’ squad following Friday night’s meeting with Hawthorn at Sydney’s Giants Stadium.
Buckley said the club was unlikely to impose any more penalties on Sidebottom. He said the club was trying to retain focus on on-field matters despite the off-field concerns of Sidebottom and De Goey and Heritier Lumumba’s accusations of racism directed towards the Magpies.
“I think we’ve been pretty open with that. Obviously Jordy’s matter from 2015 is in the hands of police now. Steele’s have been well-documented. I am yet to see Steele face-to-face. He’s over in Perth and when he assimilates into the program we’ll get a chance to have some conversations with Steele to close that loop. And I suppose the club has appointed an independent investigator for the claims around Heritier’s experience, which we hope we’ll learn and grow from and look forward to being better in that space.
“We don’t anticipate that there’s going to be significant impacts beyond [Sidebottom’s] four-week ban through the AFL. That is something that would be taken into consideration given that’s a penalty not just for Steele but for the rest of the football club, not having been on the field for four weeks.
“I hope that both of the boys [Sidebottom and De Goey] are thinking about how they can contribute to the football club and become better people from their experiences. Whether it’s public or whether it’s private. We will continue to support them as much as we can whilst holding them to account.”