THE AFL has announced long-serving executive Andrew Dillon as its next CEO.
The League's chairman, Richard Goyder AO, confirmed that Dillon would replace the outgoing Gillon McLachlan on Monday, with the handover to take place at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
Dillon is currently the AFL's executive general manager of football operations, legal, integrity and general counsel. He has worked at the League in a number of capacities since August 2000.
FULL STATEMENT AFL Commission appoints Andrew Dillon as new CEO
Dillon will now act as the CEO-elect for the remainder of the season, officially taking the reins on October 2, marking the conclusion of the AFL's hunt for McLachlan's replacement that began in April last year.
The general manager of competition management, Laura Kane, will take on the role as acting general manager of football. Meanwhile, the general manager of legal and regulatory, Stephen Meade, has been appointed as the AFL's general counsel.
"I am honoured and truly humbled to lead the greatest game in the world into its next phase," Dillon said in a statement on Monday.
"Football has been a defining part of my life and it is a privilege to be able to lead the industry in ensuring our game remains relevant, accessible and welcoming to all Australians.
"It is important that we continue to strengthen every part of our game, from the 18 AFL clubs, who all now have both AFL and AFLW programs, right through to the grassroots and I am looking forward to working with our AFL team, our clubs, our players and the wider industry to ensure our game expands its reach.
IN HIS OWN WORDS Dillon on Tassie, Hawks, Gill, his biggest challenge
"Every touch point in footy should be a positive and memorable one, from attending a match, to a parent signing their child up for Auskick for the first time, a player being drafted, or a community umpire debuting on a Saturday afternoon. Our game connects with so many, and I am driven to ensure we continue to make all these moments unforgettable.
"It is really important that we are a game for everyone, a game that is accessible, affordable and safe and a game where everyone feels welcome.
"Our AFL and community clubs are the lifeblood of our game, and I will be club and community focused and committed to ensuring the game will be at the core of the AFL’s decision making.
"I believe in the power of football to connect people regardless of our background, gender or beliefs and want us to work to have footy in every home across the country.
"We play our elite competitions in every state and territory of Australia and we want to make sure that our game is the number one sport of choice for girls and boys and men and women all over Australia.
"The elite game across both men’s and women’s will be more entertaining, more spectacular and more popular than ever and will be played by the best and most diverse athletes – our mission is to be unrivalled in comparison to other sports and to develop a growing global interest."
Dillon replaces McLachlan, who has been the AFL's chief executive since April 2014.
He has previously worked in a number of roles including as the AFL's legal counsel from August 2000, its general manager of legal and business affairs from July 2004, its general manager of national and international development and its general counsel from December 2011, its general manager of legal, integrity and compliance from 2013, the responsibility of game development from March 2017, and executive general manager of football operations from July 2021.
"Andrew has been a key leader and voice in every decision we have made as an organisation for many years, and he brings not only experience across both elite and community football but also a key involvement in our major broadcast and partnership deals and in developing and shaping the AFL’s response to a number of key social issues," Goyder said.
"Andrew is a well-known and highly respected leader and has great support across the industry for his calm, considered and collaborative approach. To do this role, you need a genuine love for the game and Andrew has a massive love and care for the game that he has demonstrated over his 23 years at the AFL. He knows football, he knows the football community, he knows our supporters, our volunteers and participants and he has a clear vision of taking our game to more and more people.
"We are really pleased to appoint Andrew to the CEO role and know he will expertly guide the industry to a new era of growth and further build on the work that Gill and the team have done over the past decade. The Commission looks forward to working with Andrew to ensure our game is the sport and entertainment choice in every home in Australia."
More to come
AFL chief executive officers
1986-96 – Ross Oakley
1996-2003 – Wayne Jackson
2003-14 – Andrew Demetriou
2014-23 – Gillon McLachlan
Oct 2023-onwards – Andrew Dillon