Hawthorn could be required to pay a combined compensation bill that exceeds seven figures to former staff members Alastair Clarkson, Chris Fagan and Jason Burt for the damage to their reputations, with former Hawks president Jeff Kennett stating it "would be totally wrong for the AFL to penalise Hawthorn".

The AFL concluded its investigation into the allegations of racism between 2008 and 2016 made against the former Hawthorn staff by past First Nations players in May this year, with no adverse findings made in the independent investigation and no financial component included in the agreement.

Ex-AFL boss Gillon McLachlan said at the time that a charge against Hawthorn would be a decision for the general counsel and all the commission to decide.

According to a report by The Age, Hawthorn are facing a significant financial settlement with Clarkson, who led the club to four premierships during his time with the Hawks, while he and ex-Hawthorn football boss Fagan seek public apologies from the club.

The club could pay over $1 million in combined compensation to the pair and former welfare manager Burt for the "damage to their reputations and the costs they incurred", the publication reports.

A decision to compensate both ex-staff members and Indigenous families by the Hawks would mitigate any potential financial penalty imposed upon the club.

The potential settlement has been criticised by Kennett, who believes "this is not Hawthorn's fault".

"I'm not going to be shamed into apologising and I have to say this is not a great start for the AFL administration," Kennett told The Age. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson (R) celebrates the win with Hawks President Jeff Kennett during the round 18 AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium on July 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

"It would be totally wrong for the AFL to penalise Hawthorn and it would be totally wrong for the club to use members' funds to pay for something it did not do. This is not Hawthorn's error. This is not Hawthorn's fault."

Current Hawthorn president Andrew Gowers said it had "always been my intention" to make amends with Clarkson, Fagan and Burt.

The trio, who each took time away from their respective football positions over the past 13 months, have denied any wrongdoing since the allegations first surfaced.

Clarkson and Fagan returned to coaching North Melbourne and Brisbane this year, with the former requiring 10 weeks away from his duties in the middle of the season to focus on his health and well-being amid the ongoing investigation.

Fagan coached out the entirety of the 2023 season and would lead the Lions to a grand final return in September.