Former Adelaide lad Gillon McLachlan will take over as AFL chief executive, with Andrew Demetriou to leave the post earlier than expected.
It ends almost two years of speculation that the 38-year-old McLachlan, nephew of former SACA President and foundation Stadium Management Authority Chairman Ian McLachlan, would be the AFL’s next boss.
AFL Commission chairman Mike Fitzpatrick on Wednesday announced McLachlan’s appointment following a near two-month search for Demetriou’s replacement.
Demetriou resigned on March 3 and was set to end his 11-year stint as chief at the end of the season but will now depart on June 5.
McLachlan, Demetriou’s long-time deputy, is believed to have beaten AFL club bosses Brian Cook and Brendon Gale for the job from an initial list of about 100 applicants.
He has long been regarded as the most likely successor since knocking back the NRL’s chief executive role in 2012 before Dave Smith was appointed to that job.
“He is indeed the best man for the job,” Fitzpatrick told reporters.
McLachlan, a commercial lawyer, educated at St Peter’s College in Adelaide before going to Melbourne University, joined the AFL in 2000 as a strategist.
He was promoted in 2008 to chief operating officer where he oversaw stadium deals.
It was in this role that he first had discussions in early 2008 with South Australian Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith regarding options for returning AFL to the CBD.
It’s understood he was a key player in putting Ian McLachlan’s SACA proposal for a redeveloped Adelaide Oval on the table as the preferred AFL option.
He is the son of Ian’s brother Angus and his brother Hamish has a prominent role as an AFL broadcaster.
Gillon McLachlan said today 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.
“For me that vision is about having an unassailable hold on the Australian community.”
– with AAP
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