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McLachlan to step down as AFL CEO

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan will depart the role at seasons end, after nine seasons in the role.

McLachlan took over from Andrew Demetriou in 2014, overseeing the introduction of the AFL Women's competition in 2017 and subsequent expansion, that will see all 18 teams have a male and female side from later this year.

In 2016, he oversaw the signing of the most lucrative sports broadcast rights deal in Australian history – a six-year contract with Seven, Foxtel and Telstra worth more than $2.5 billion.

Throughout 2020, that deal was revised and extended for another two years with all three partners, providing financial stability for the game as it continued to recover from the shock of the pandemic.

McLachlan has committed to completing the complicated processes attached to new Collective Bargaining Agreements for the women’s and men’s competitions, as well as finalising new club-funding models and a fresh broadcast deal, which expires at the end of 2024.

He will also provide a recommendation to the Commission on the proposal for a team in Tasmania.

"I'm leaving now because it feels right: right for the AFL, right for me, right for my family. It's clearly more complicated than that but actually, in simple terms, it's not. The AFL's in incredible shape on whatever metric you assess it," an emotional McLachlan told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday.

"I could never have imagined, when I started, that the friendships I would take from the AFL would be by far the most significant thing in my time here," he said.

"It's not just at the AFL, it's across the clubs and our commercial and broadcast partners. The greatest game in the world is so because there's a bloody lot of passionate, mercurial people in and around and I think footy brings out the best in them."

The AFL commission will begin the process to find McLachlan's successor, with head of commercial and broadcasting Travis Auld a leading candidate.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale and Western Bulldogs President Kylie Watson-Wheeler are others that will be heavily backed for the AFL's top job, to be appointed post the 2022 AFL season.

IMAGE: Herald Sun.

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