Sport AFL AFL chief ‘will listen to fans’

AFL chief ‘will listen to fans’

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• Who is Gillon McLachlan?

Current AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan has been named as the successor to departing AFL boss Andrew Demetriou.

South Australian McLachlan was the logical choice to take the top spot after filling the position for two months during 2012 while Demetriou went on long service leave. He has been Demetriou’s second-in-command for a number of years.

The decision comes as no surprise to the AFL industry, with McLachlan widely tipped to take over the role.

Demetriou had said he would stay on until the end of the season, but he has brought his departure date forward until Thursday June 5.

McLachlan, 40, described his new role as an “honour”.

“I understand the honour, i understand the responsibility, I understand the privilege of leading this company and this game,” McLachlan said.

McLachlan thanked Demetriou for his “support, leadership, mentoring and friendship”, but said he would be a different leader to his predecessor.

“I think Andrew’s legacy is extraordinary growth in the industry,” he said.

“Ultimately, I will be a different leader to Andrew,” he said. “The shape and structure of the team will change.”

“I completely accept that we need to listen to the fans.”

McLachlan said he is “acutely aware” of the challenges awaiting him.

“Despite those challenges we are in an incredibly strong position,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to the role.

“The most pressing couple I can think of are the continued support and structural improvement in our weaker clubs – having strong competition. Also, engaging with our fans and taking away any encumbrances.”

McLachlan seemed to suggest he will try to keep a day grand final.

“My personal view – I like a day grand final,” he said.

McLachlan has an extensive history with Australian rules football, having been a captain, life member and committee member of University Blues.

“I have a strong knowledge of the clubs and the pressure they’re under,” he said.

“I played over 240 games of amateur and country football.”

He said he recognised the AFL is an “intrinsic parts of so many people’s lives.”

McLachlan also outlined his vision for the game.

“For me, that vision is about having a sustainable hold on the community – in women, in children, as much as in the north as in the south, in all communities.”

Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said the CEO’s role is “the most important” in the AFL.

McLaclan was selected from a field of 100 candidates, three of whom were interviewed for the top job. The field of candidates included several women, people from international sport, corporate executives and figures within the AFL industry.

But McLachlan was “indeed the best person for the job,” Fitzpatrick said.

“Gillon was ‘developed from our own game’.

“He clearly has the respect and support of our industry to lead us through the next set of challenges.”

Football writer Caroline Wilson said on Tuesday McLachlan would be keen to put his own stamp on the league.

“McLachlan supporters say there will be cultural change; McLachlan supporters say there will be a shake-up of the AFL executive,” she told 3AW.

“I’m not talking a complete overhaul but a small shake-up of the AFL executive.

“I think certain executives … will probably be moved around a bit.”

However even with a change at the helm, Wilson said the AFL is still a “boys’ club” and should take steps to address the gender imbalance.