Watch AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan’s resignation press conference here

McLachlan leads AFL during time of growth and turmoil

Gillon McLachlan has been an establishment leader. The footy fan and administrator who’s also a polo player, the man who turns up at the races in a flat cap and corduroy jacket, the nephew of former Howard Government minister Ian McLachlan, and the deputy to former AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou — McLachlan stepped into the AFL’s top role in mid-2014.

He has overseen a time of growth for AFL, including the introduction and expansion of AFLW, rising ratings, and the purchase of Docklands Stadium.

There have been some mis-steps, too, such as the much-maligned AFL X experiment.

But the biggest challenge McLachlan and the league has faced has been the turmoil of COVID-19.

The pandemic saw teams and players disrupted repeatedly, the game’s biggest stadia shuttered and silent.

Matches were played to the echo of players’ voices without fans to cheer them on, an AFLW season was halted and left unfinished and unprecedented stress both emotional and financial was put on the game itself and those within it.

The cuts to football funding have resulted in job cuts across the league, and an overall loss of stability – in return for keeping the game going through a period of existential threat.



Author: Ivan Robinson