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Gillon McLachlan named AFL CEO

Editor
29th April, 2014
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Gillon McLachlan has been announced as the AFL’s new chief executive with Andrew Demetriou to leave the post on June 5, earlier than initially expected after he announced his resignation earlier this year..

AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick made the announcement at a media conference at 11am (AEST) at AFL House in Melbourne.

Demetriou’s long-time deputy, McLachlan, beat challenges from 100 other candidates initially interviewed. Final interviews were held on Monday, with McLachlan pipping two other candidates for the job.

He has long been regarded as the most likely successor and knocked back the NRL’s chief executive role in 2012 before Dave Smith was appointed to that job.

South Australian-born McLachlan joined the AFL with Demetriou in 2000, rising to the executive three years later and has been groomed as Demetriou’s successor for three years.

Unlike Demetriou, McLachlan has not played the game at the highest level but joined the league as an amateur footballer with University Blues.

He has played key roles in the major AFL projects of recent years including the addition of the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants to the competition, and setting up the AFL media department and broadcast deals.

AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick praised McLachlan’s contribution to the game in his time in the organisation:

“This appointment is fitting reward for the hard work, commitment and leadership we’ve seen from him in his time at the AFL.

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“It’s particularly pleasing to be able to appoint a candidate developed from our own game.”

McLachlan said he was incredibly proud to take up the new role and he would take a different approach to that of Demetriou, who he praised as a leader, mentor and friend.

“I’ve got a strong knowledge of the clubs and the pressures they’re under,” McLachlan said.

“But I also feel I was a strong candidate because I understand the passion of football.

“I’ve been part of the community of football and I know how important it is.

“I played over 200 games of amateur or country football, I’ve captained a club, I’ve been on a committee of a club, I’m a life member of a club.

“I’ve had my share of cold showers and freezing committee meetings. I’ve been part of appointing coaches and sacking coaches.

“I have a clear vision of where the game needs to go and how we’re going to get there.

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“For me that vision is about having an unassailable hold on the Australian community.”

McLachlan admitted he faced some immediate challenges, including improving structures at the game’s weaker clubs and emphasising engagement with the fans.

“Ultimately I will be a different leader to Andrew – there’s only one Andrew,” he said.

“It will mean that I take a different approach.

“It’ll mean we’ll have a different approach to the way we do business in here, the shape and structure of the team will change.

“But I think it’s essentially consolidating and extending the work that came under Andrew’s tenure.”

South Australian-born McLachlan joined the AFL with Demetriou in 2000, rising to the executive three years later and has been groomed as Demetriou’s successor for three years.

Unlike Demetriou, McLachlan did not play the game at the highest level but joined the league as an amateur footballer with University Blues.

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He filled in as CEO for two months in 2012 when Demetriou went on long service leave, and has also served as chief operating officer and acting head of football operations.

He has played key roles in the major AFL projects of recent years including the addition of the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants to the competition, and setting up the AFL media department and the re-negotiated broadcast deals.

He also oversaw the investigation into Melbourne’s tanking allegations and headed last year’s negotiations with Essendon over its controversial supplements program.

It’s believed he has the support of the majority of AFL clubs, including Collingwood president Eddie McGuire and his North Melbourne counterpart James Brayshaw.

With AAP