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Change afoot at AFL House


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New AFL boss Gillon McLachlan will take a completely different approach to how Andrew Demetriou handled the Essendon supplements crisis if faced with something so big.

The newly-appointed chief executive has indicated he will effectively do the opposite to how his predecessor Demetriou managed last year’s controversial AFL investigation.

Demetriou maintained his position on the AFL Commission, which ruled on Essendon’s punishments, and let other key league administrators such as McLachlan handle the investigation and negotiations.

McLachlan said in an issue so important, he would want to be involved at the coal face rather than be on the commission, waiting to make a ruling.

“I’m not saying in every occasion, but in hindsight … if I was chief executive knowing what I know (and) going into that Essendon situation, then I think I would stand down from the commission and focus on dealing with the issue on a day-to-day basis,” he told 3AW.

“(I would) leave the jury role to the commission and stand by from it.”

Part of the AFL chief executive’s role is to sit on the commission.

One of the fiercest criticisms of how the league handled its investigation of Essendon last year is the commission was not independent from the AFL administration.

Demetriou insists the two bodies stayed at arm’s length.

McLachlan said the AFL made the right decision in punishing Essendon heavily, but acknowledges that the body must be more open.

“A key learning out of last year is that process and transparency are going to have to prioritised … rather than what we think is the right solution for the game in the short term,” he said.

McLachlan, 40, was the hot favourite to take over as AFL chief executive once Demetriou announced early last month that he was resigning.

Demetriou will leave the post on June 5.

AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick said there was an initial field of 100 candidates, which was reduced to 20.

Finally, McLachlan was among three who presented to the commission on Monday.

While the job was always McLachlan’s to lose, he said the last few weeks had been unnerving.

“It’s a very public audition that you go through for this role,” he said.

McLachlan and Fitzpatrick have pledged that one of the top priorities for the new administration will be to listen to growing anger among fans about the cost of going to the footy.

McLachlan also said he is a fan of a day grand final, said Good Friday is no certainty yet and promised to put more women in senior AFL roles.

He also said he would be a different boss to Demetriou, but indicated change would be gradual.

“I will be a different leader to Andrew – there’s only one Andrew,” he said.

“It will mean I take a different approach.

“The shape and structure of the team will change.

“But it’s essentially consolidating and extending the work that’s happened under Andrew’s tenure.”



2000 – hired as a strategic planner under then-CEO Wayne Jackson

2003 – appointed general manager of commercial operations

2006 – takes on broadcasting and major projects portfolio

2008 – appointed chief operating officer

December 2012 – appointed deputy CEO

April 2014 – appointed CEO

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