At the head of the AFL structure is the AFL Commission comprising eight commissioners. They are Chairman Richard Goyder, AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan, Paul Bassat, Robin Bishop, Professor Helen Milroy, Andrew Newbold, Gab Trainor and Simone Wilkie.

The chief executive officer is appointed by the AFL Commission and is responsible for the operating performance of the AFL and the implementation of policy decided by the commission. He is also the public face of the commission.


Richard Goyder is the chairman of Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Qantas Airways Ltd, JDRF Australia, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. Formerly he was Chairman of the Australian B20 (the key business advisory body to the international economic forum which includes business leaders from all G20 economies). He was the Managing Director and CEO of Wesfarmers Limited from July 2005 to November 2017. He also previously held the roles of Finance Director between 2002 and 2004 and Deputy Managing Director and CFO between 2004 and 2005. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2013 for distinguished service to business through executive roles and through the promotion of corporate sponsorship of the arts and indigenous programs, and to the community. He was a director of the Fremantle Football Club from 2006 until September 2011 and played amateur football with University and Old Scotch in WA. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2011. Appointed Chairman of the AFL Commission in March, 2017. 


Gillon McLachlan has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Worked in a strategic role at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) that involved a variety of industries in different countries. This included a six-month contract in the Philippines. Joined the AFL in May 2000 as a strategic planner and was appointed General Manager Commercial Operations in November 2003 before taking on the additional areas of broadcasting and major projects in 2006. Was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2008 with responsibility for AFL broadcasting and digital media, fixturing, venue agreements and stadia infrastructure. Appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in December 2012 and Chief Executive Officer (replacing Andrew Demetriou) on April 30, 2014.  


Paul Bassat is a co-founder of Square Peg, which is a venture capital fund focused on investing in early stage technology companies in Australia, Israel and South East Asia. He is a director of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation and the P&S Bassat Foundation. He co-founded SEEK in 1997 and served as CEO and then joint CEO from 1997-2011 and served as a director of Wesfarmers from 2012-18. He started his career as a lawyer and practised for six years. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Melbourne. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2012 


Robin Bishop is a founding partner of BGH Capital, a private equity firm based in Melbourne. BGH raised Australia’s largest private equity fund at $2.6 billion in 2018. Previously, Bishop was head of Macquarie Capital Australia, the region’s largest and most active investment banking team. Bishop has led more than $100 billion in mergers and acquisitions transactions and more than $40 billion in capital raising assignments across a range of sectors and markets. Bishop is a non-executive director of the Burnet Institute for Medical Research and serves on the Australian Takeovers Panel. Bishop received a Bachelor of Commerce, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2017. 


Professor Milroy is a descendant of the Palkyu people of the Pilbara region in WA but was born and educated in Perth. She is the Stan Perron Chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Perth Children’s Hospital and University of Western Australia, Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and Board Member of Beyond Blue. From 2013-17, Professor Milroy was a Commissioner with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Professor Milroy has led work for many years in Australia around Aboriginal mental health with a focus on the wellbeing of children. She has more than 30 years’ experience in clinical services and mental health systems. She has played a key role in the development of mental health policy, research and clinical services. Widely published as a researcher and academic, Professor Milroy has received numerous awards for her contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, psychotherapy, education and academic excellence. She is the joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. She joined the AFL Commission in March 2019. 


Andrew Newbold joined the AFL Commission at the start of 2016 after retiring as Chairman and President of the Hawthorn Football Club. In his time as President, the club played in four consecutive Grand Finals from 2012, winning three premierships. He played a key role in the growth and success of the club over his 13 years as President and a director. Newbold is a qualified lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience in practising commercial law. Following his retirement from law in 2006, Newbold started a renewable energy business which he sold to an ASX top 20 company in 2009. He is an executive director of the boutique finance house Supra Capital Limited, the Chairman of Althea Group Holdings Limited, SEDA Group and Golf Australia. Previously, Newbold has been a director of a number of private companies and not-for-profit organisations, including the Australian Childhood Foundation and Victorian Deaf Society. He was appointed to the AFL Commission in 2016.  


Gabrielle Trainor is a former lawyer, journalist, public sector executive and consultant in public policy, government relations and issues management. She has more than 25 years’ experience as a non-executive director in entities operating in urban development, major projects, transport and infrastructure. Her current directorships include Zurich Australia, Infrastructure Australia, the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (Vic) and listed investment company WAM Global. She chairs the National Film and Sound Archive. She is a commissioner of the Australian Sports Commission (Sport Australia) and a trustee of the Charlie Perkins Trust and of Western Sydney University. Trainor was appointed as an inaugural Director of the Greater Western Sydney Giants Football Club in 2011 and chaired the Giants’ Integrity Committee. She has lifelong experience in football, from volunteering for the Willoughby Wildcats in the Sydney AFL juniors’ competition to sitting on the AFL Commission NSW/ACT for 10 years, where she championed the movement to better integrate the Sydney Women’s AFL with the Commission. Her grandfather, Frank, and father, Tony, were presidents of North Melbourne for a total of 22 years. Appointed to the AFL Commission in March 2016. 


Simone Wilkie was raised in Ballarat, where football played a central part in family life. She retired as a Major General after completing 35 years’ service including senior appointments in operations and training, and active service in Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan. She chaired the Australian Defence Force Sports Council for five years, overseeing major reforms and the development and management of Australia’s Invictus Games Teams. She is a Defence Professor at Deakin University; the Strategic Adviser Land to the Queensland Government; a member of the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal; and a non-executive Director of AFL SportsReady, the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue and The Beaufort Group. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2015. 

Organisational structure

The AFL, under the Chief Executive, is divided into departments led by Executive General Managers across each of these areas of executive responsibility.

Chief Executive Officer: Gillon McLachlan
Gillon McLachlan has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Worked in a strategic role at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) that involved a variety of industries in different countries. This included a six-month contract in the Philippines. Joined the AFL in May 2000 as a strategic planner and was appointed General Manager Commercial Operations in November 2003 before taking on the additional areas of broadcasting and major projects in 2006. Was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2008 with responsibility for AFL broadcasting and digital media, fixturing, venue agreements and stadia infrastructure. Appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in December 2012 and Chief Executive Officer (replacing Andrew Demetriou) on April 30, 2014.

Executive General Manager Game Development/General Counsel/Acting Executive General Manager Football: Andrew Dillon
Has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne and a post-graduate diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia. Undertook Articled Clerkship at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in 1994 and was subsequently employed as a solicitor in Corrs’ Commercial Division. From October 1997 to August 2000, worked as in-house legal counsel at Village Roadshow Limited. Joined the AFL in August 2000 as Legal Counsel and was appointed General Manager – Legal and Business Affairs in July 2004. In December 2011, was appointed as General Manager of National and International Development and General Counsel. Appointed General Counsel, General Manager, Legal, Integrity and Compliance in 2013. In March 2017, in addition to the role of General Counsel, General Manager of Integrity and Compliance, Dillon took on the responsibility of Game Development, which sees him responsible for all the community and state football leagues, community and state football facilities and infrastructure, the relationships with all AFL state bodies, women’s football, the multicultural, indigenous and diversity portfolio and the AFL’s international game development strategy and implementation.

Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs, Government and Communications: Brian Walsh
With a background in media, Brian has spent the best part of the last two decades helping organisations across the corporate, sport, Government and community sectors to identify their stories and communicate them better and smarter to all audiences.  Brian is an accomplished media executive with a diverse career including time as a reporter, covering senior roles within News Ltd at the Herald Sun, his first stint at the AFL working under Andrew Demetriou, at NAB, Bastion Reputation Management, and has also served on the board of North Melbourne.

Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial: Kylie Rogers
One of Australia’s leading commercial and media executives, having worked at Network Ten for 17 years in a number of rules, including National Commercial Director, and National Head of Generate, the network’s in-house content, strategy and integration agency. Rogers joined the AFL in December 2017 from Mamamia, Australia’s largest women’s media company. As Commercial Director and then Managing Director, she oversaw significant growth and profitability for the organisation in Australia and internationally. AFL Commercial Operations is responsible for the Corporate and Consumer Business Divisions, which included AFL membership, membership shared services, ticketing, licensed products, events, corporate hospitality and sponsorship and partnerships, which generate total AFL non-broadcast revenue of more than $200 million a year. 

Executive General Manager People: Sarah Fair
A HR professional and change management specialist, Fair was appointed to the AFL Executive in March 2017. Fair has extensive experience in driving sustainable change to create high-performing organisations with talented people, who love what they do, live and breathe the values and have the capability to deliver on what’s most important. She is also a Director of Melbourne Stadiums Limited, following the AFL’s acquisition of Marvel Stadium. Her previous experience includes Head of Diversity and Head of Culture at Australia Post, attracted by the prospect of working with talented people on one of Austral9ia’s largest, most complex transformational change agendas. Before joining Australia Post, Fair was a Senior Organisational Development Consultant at global management consulting firm Right Management, where she had the opportunity to work across a number of industries on key change projects including retail, fast-moving consumer goods, financial services, government, construction and mining. 

Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy: Tanya Hosch
Hosch has a long and distinguished history in indigenous policy, advocacy, governance and fundraising. Before joining the AFL as the first indigenous person and second woman in Executive ranks in August 2016, Hosch was the Joint Campaign Director of the Recognise movement for constitutional reform. Her role at the AFL includes implementing the AFL’s enhanced indigenous strategy, advising the AFL Indigenous Advisory Council, reviewing the Respect and Responsibility Policy and implementing the AFL’s Gender Action Plan. Hosch was appointed to the Indigenous Advisory Group of the NAB in 2016 and is a Board Director of the Indigenous Land Corporation, the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute and a member of the Referendum Council. In addition, Hosch is the independent Chair of Price Waterhouse Coopers Indigenous Consulting.

Executive General Manager Finance, Clubs and Broadcast: Travis Auld
With more than 20 years of industry experience, Auld joined the Essendon Football Club in 1997 and in December 2000 was appointed the club’s Chief Operating Officer, with responsibilities across strategy, commercial operations, football operations, financial management, governance, community relations and media. Appointed inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Coast Suns in June 2009. Led the development and implementation of the strategic plan to establish the club for its entry to the AFL competition in 2011. After joining the AFL in September 2014, is now responsible for the industry’s finances, the relationship with the competition’s 18 clubs, the television and radio broadcaster partners, along with the fixturing process for both the national men’s and women’s competitions. Holds a Bachelor of Business from La Trobe University and is an associate of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Company Directors.

Executive General Manager Strategy: Walter Lee
Appointed General Manager – Strategy in March 2017. Lee was seconded to the AFL in 2009 to support stadium deal negotiations and assist with the establishment of two new expansion clubs. Since then, Lee has supported major strategic projects such as negotiations of media rights, AFL Players Collective Bargaining Agreement and establishment of the AFL Women’s competition. Lee runs the strategy team responsible for the development of the AFL’s long term strategic priorities and its insights data and analytics function. Before joining the AFL, Lee was a strategy consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton working in oil and gas, rail, telecommunications and government sectors. Lee holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with Melbourne Business School. 

AFL Executive Committee
Gillon McLachlan (CEO), Andrew Dillon, Brian Walsh, Kylie Rogers, Sarah Fair, Steve Hocking, Tanya Hosch, Travis Auld, Walter Lee.

AFL Indigenous Advisory Council
Paul Briggs (co-chair), Helen Milroy (co- chair), Shaun Burgoyne, Xavier Clarke, Jason Glanville, Tanya Hosch, Gabrielle Trainor AO, Paul Vandenbergh. Patrick Keane (secretary).

AFL SportsReady Ltd Board
The Hon Justin Madden AM (Chair), James Montgomery (CEO), Andrew Blair AM, Steve Drummy, David Huggins, Rod Jackson, Madeline Penny, Nova Peris OAM, Colin Pidd, Ben Smith, Simone Wilkie AO.

AFL Audit and Risk Committee
Andrew Newbold (chair), Robin Bishop, Richard Goyder AO, Melissa Azzopardi, Andrew Dillon, Stephen Meade.

AFL Remuneration Committee
Richard Goyder AO (chair), Paul Bassat, Robin Bishop, Sarah Fair, Simone Wilkie AO.

AFL Nominations Committee
Richard Goyder AO (chair), Dale Alcock, David Koch, Mark LoGuidice, Andrew Pridham, Andrew Wellington, Simone Wilkie.

AFL Football Operations Sub-Committee
Steve Hocking (chair), Rob Auld, Tom Gastin, Nicole Livingstone, Tim Neville, Nadine Rabah, Dan Richardson, Tristan Salter, Sophia Samartzis, Scott Taylor

AFL Tribunal/ Appeals Board
Tribunal/Appeal Board Chairs: David Jones, Ross Howie, Geoff Giudice AO, Murray Kellam QC
Tribunal Jury Members: Wayne Henwood, Jason Johnson, Stephen Jurica, Richard Loveridge, Stewart Loewe, Peter Matera, David Neitz, David Pittman, Paul Williams and Shane Wakelin.
Appeal Board Panel Members: David Jones, Ross Howie, Geoff Giudice AO, Murray Kellam QC, Wayne Henwood, Stephen Jurica, Richard Loveridge
AFL Tribunal Counsel: Jeff Gleeson QC, Nick Pane QC, Renee Enbom SC and Andrew Woods
Secretary: Tom Gasti

AFL Competition Committee
Steve Hocking (chair), Patrick Dangerfield, Chris Davies, Chris Fagan, Nicole Livingstone, Brett Murphy, Peggy O'Neal, Justin Reeves, Kylie Rogers, Craig Vozzo.

AFLW Competition Committee
Simone Wilkie (chair), Jessica Burger, Alicia Eva, Mark Evans, Brendon Gale, Phil Harper, Steve Hocking, Alicia Janz, Laura Kane, Nicole Livingstone, Brett Murphy, Peta Searle, Diana Taylor.

Match Review Officer
Michael Christian.

AFL Grievance Tribunal
Professor Geoffrey Guidice AO (chair), Murray Kellam AO (deputy chair), David Maddocks, Michael Moncrieff, Kevin Power

All Australian and NAB AFL Rising Star Selectors
Gillon McLachlan(chair), Kevin Bartlett, Jude Bolton, Steve Hocking, Glen Jakovich, Chris Johnson, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson, Nick Riewoldt, Kevin Sheehan (NAB AFL Rising Star only), Warren Tredrea.

Australian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee
Richard Goyder AO (chair), Tania Armstrong, Graham Cornes, Ross Glendinning, Karen Lyon, Paul Marsh, Bruce McAvaney (retiring after 2021 induction), Michael O'Loughlin, David Parkin, Mark Genge (statistics/history consultant), Patrick Keane (secretary).

AFL Medical Director
Dr Peter Harcourt.

Secretaries / General Managers
1897-1929: Edwin Wilson
1929-1956: Like McBrien, OBE
1956-1976: Eric McCutchan, OBE
1977-1984: Jack Hamilton, AM
1985-1986: Alan Schwab 

1984-1986: Jack Hamilton

Chair – Commission
1986-1993: Ross Oakley
1993-1997: John Kennedy
1998-2007: Ron Evans
2007-2016: Mike Fitzpatrick
Since 2017: Richard Goyder

Executive Commissioner
1986-93: Alan Schwab

Chief Executive Officer
1994-1996: Ross Oakley
1996-2003: Wayne Jackson
2003-2014: Andrew Demetriou
Since 2014: Gillon McLachlan

Australian Football: A short history of the national game's evolution

Australian Football is a domestic football code and is the largest professional sport, winter or summer, in Australia, by the measures of yearly fan attendance, membership of the elite professional clubs, television audiences, broadcast contract arrangements and financial turnover of the clubs and competition.

The AFL (Australian Football League) is the body that manages both the national elite competitions for men (AFL) and women (AFLW), as well as promotion and development of the game at community level, via grants and support to state-based and community-based leagues, which are semi-professional or amateur depending on their size.

Historically, matches began from the late 1850s and two of the current elite AFL clubs at senior level, Melbourne (1858) and the Geelong Cats (1859) are among the oldest continuous sporting clubs in the world.

The game's initial strength in its formative years was in the southern and western regions of Australia with organised senior state-level competitions in existence since the 1870s and expansion into the northern states for more than a century.

The current AFL competition was originally known as the Victorian Football League (VFL). It was founded in 1896 as a breakaway competition from the Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing the following year.

The VFL, aiming to become a national competition, began expanding beyond Victoria to other Australian states in the 1980s, and changed its name to the AFL in 1990. New teams were added in time from Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, while the original senior state league competitions in SA (the SANFL) and WA (the WAFL), continue to this day, but no longer as the primary competitions in their respective regions with state-based teams as part of the AFL.

Since its beginnings, Australian Football has maintained a high proportion of female supporters. It also has many Indigenous footballers playing at the elite level. 

The game is played between two sides of 18 (16 for women's competitions), with four reserve players (five for women), on an oval between 160-180m in length and 90-120m in width. Scoring is with six points for a major score and one point for a minor score with seasons running between 18 and 22 weeks, followed by a finals (playoff) series to determine the ultimate winner of the competition.

More than one million Australians are members of an elite AFL club, representing approximately one in 26 Australians, while television audiences number more than seven million per year. 

The AFL season currently consists of a 23-round regular (or 'home and away') season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The team with the best record after the home and away series is awarded the "minor premiership". The top-eight teams then play off in a four-round finals series, culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The Grand Final winner is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup.