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The Roar



Dear Gil: An open letter to the AFL CEO

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Roar Rookie
26th March, 2020

It must be one of the most thankless jobs in the country.

It seems like every single football issue falls onto your heavy shoulders in the knowledge that whatever the response, it’s never going to satisfy every adoring, yet hostile fan. With those decisions comes the fierce scrutiny and criticism, much of which often seems to depict that you alone are solely responsible.

Before now, have we ever wondered as fans what goes into the daily life of Gillon McLachlan and how mentally and emotionally draining it must be?

We step into the unknown, a time of great anxiety and apprehension for sporting codes and the entire global landscape. It’s in these times where we evaluate the strength of our leaders, those whom we trust to take us back to simpler times.

Football is just a game, but ultimately it’s a symbolism for these simpler times. We can sit back of a weekend and watch with admiration as our favourite players run around, allowing us a momentary stop to forget the stresses and strains that life has in store for us all.

Regardless of the differing beliefs on whether Round 1 should have gone ahead, there’s no doubt it presented fans with the opportunity for normality. The situation was unprecedented and empty stadiums were disconcerting, but it was footy and for many, that’s all we needed.

Come Sunday you made the harrowing decision to suspend the season, a gut-wrenching one for all, including the fans that for many footy was a last saving grace. It was sensible though, demonstrating the notion that a leader should put the wider community ahead of himself and those around him.

Many will exclaim that your salary shall comfort you in any period of perennial criticism and thanklessness. However, your willingness to take an 80 per cent pay cut, although not outlandish in this current environment, demonstrates leadership in the hope that players will soon follow suit. Others will identify that thousands of Australians are in a more precarious position, yet few in our country carry the responsibility and importance you will have over the coming months.

Gillon McLachlan

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)


You look exhausted and rightly so, bearing the weight of a footy-crazed nation. As you’ve pointed out, footy is resilient and it will get through this. When it does you deserve a rest, a break from the emotional and physical toll that you will have suffered.

As respectful fans we will admire this and give thanks by reappearing at games in our droves, reigniting our passion from the stands. For now we think of you, as we do all our fellow Australians.

Thank you Gil,

An admiring fan