“It was a very honest discussion,” he said.
“Ben was very mature and understood our decision.
“We will work with Ben and his management to secure a mutually beneficial outcome.”
It caps off an unfathomable 12 months for Brown, who this time last year had kicked more than 60 goals in three consecutive seasons.
Sources close to Brown’s negotiations with North Melbourne have told The Age he was offered a three-year contract at the start of 2020 worth upwards of $750,000 per season.
Brown and his management rejected that offer, wanting a longer-term deal.
North Melbourne are no longer willing to renegotiate and have advised Brown and his management to look elsewhere.
It continues the club’s hardline list management approach under new football boss Brady Rawlings and young coach Rhyce Shaw.
North Melbourne last week announced the delisting of 11 players, including leadership group members Jamie Macmillan and Jasper Pittard, as well as comeback hero Majak Daw.
Shaw believes Brown’s lead-up play is not suited to his preferred game style, which in many ways mirrors that of his former club Sydney slower, considered ball movement that prioritises contested possession.
Brown’s manager, former Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas, has reached out to Hawthorn, Collingwood and Gold Coast.
Hawthorn confirmed to The Age that they’re not interested.
Collingwood’s salary cap remains reasonably tight and the Magpies are concentrating on re-signing All-Australian squad member Darcy Moore and star mid/forward Jordan De Goey.
The Suns are still entertaining the idea of trading for Brown, but are questioning whether his presence in their forward line would help or hinder the development of young forward Ben King.
Ramanauskas was contacted for comment.
It remains to be seen whether North Melbourne would consider having him back if no club is willing to offer a decent trade in exchange for him.
Brown’s case remains a curious one. Since his second season in 2015, he has barely missed a game and booted 63, 61 and 64 goals from 2017 through to 2019, closely behind the Coleman medalist’s tally in all three seasons.
His critics would suggest he struggles to find the football unless it’s delivered on a lead and that he has far less impact once the ball hits the ground.
But his record is hard to argue with, given how often experts lament the lack of goal-kicking forwards in the modern game.
His tally of 188 goals in his last three seasons before 2020 is more than the last two Coleman medallists Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron kicked during the same period.
The trade period will take place from November 4-12, with the free agency period commencing on October 30.
Sam McClure is a sport reporter for The Age and winner of ‘best news reporter’ at the AFL Media Association awards.