In news that surprises very few people, the AFL has unveiled its incoming CEO, current Deputy Chief Executive, Gillon McLachlan. The announcement follows a subsequent revelation that current CEO Andrew Demetriou will step down from the role a lot sooner than first expected, with his tenure now ending on June 5, and not the end of the current season as first speculated.
McLachlan has been with the AFL for over a decade, becoming the league’s Chief Operating Officer in 2008, and subsequently moving up to Deputy CEO in 2012. The AFL Commission confirmed the decision today, after a process that (they claim) identified over 100 suitable candidates for the role, which was whittled down until they eventually decided to go with the guy in the office next door to them.
McLachlan’s appointment represents a desire by the league to maintain the status quo and cause as little disruption to the current method of operations that Demetriou leaves behind.
In the immediate future, McLachlan will oversee a period of calm in Australian football, following a reformist and unstable period that saw two expansion teams in the Gold Coast Suns and the Greater Wester Sydney Giants arrive, along with the ongoing ASADA scandal.
McLachlan’s regime will oversee the end of the ASADA scandal, with final reports being prepared as we speak, and will see him deal with the apparently unlikely event that show cause notices are issued to any players and personnel.
In the ensuing years, the league’s broadcasting rights deal will be renegotiated once again, ensuring massive growth and prosperity for the league as an entity, and its cementation as the premier sport in Australia.
Along with that, equalisation will become an increasingly bigger topic, with the weaker clubs expected to receive bigger slices of the pie in order to compete with league powerhouses such as Collingwood, Geelong or Hawthorn. Part of this process arrives in 2025, when the AFL takes ownership of Etihad Stadium for the princely sum of $1.
Gill McMahon’s appointment as the head honcho of Australian Rules football is a very safe, very calculated move that ensures some modicum of stability for the league’s governing body, whilst providing no insight or answers to the questions raised over its processes or governance over the past few years.
For the AFL, at least for the time being, everything remains business as usual.
Photo: Michael Dodge via Getty Images.