'Done his time': AFL world reacts to Gillon McLachlan bombshell

Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Gillon McLachlan speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announce his resignation after eight years in charge, leaving fans and commentators stunned.

McLachlan announced his intentions to step down at the end of the 2022 season on Tuesday.

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The CEO spoke to the media alongside AFL Commission Chairman Richard Goyder in Melbourne, saying he was proud of all he had achieved.

Veteran journalist Caroline Wilson revealed earlier on Tuesday that McLachlan had planned to resign before the Covid-19 pandemic changed his plans.

He instead decided to stick around and help the AFL through the difficult period.

“Gillon did the right thing not to step away during the pandemic,” Wilson told 3AW radio, saying he “stayed in longer than even he intended”.

McLachlan is keen to complete new women’s and men’s Collective Bargaining Agreements, new club-funding models and a fresh broadcast deal before departing.

"It's an honour and a privilege to serve this game - the best game in the world," McLachlan told a media conference on Tuesday.

"The responsibility has never been lost on me and I feel good that the game is in better shape now than when I took over, but with the scoreboard that will be for others to judge.

"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 is in incredible shape on whatever metric you assess it."

Gillon McLachlan, pictured here at the 2022 AFLW W Awards.
Gillon McLachlan speaks at the 2022 AFLW W Awards. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

AFL world reacts to Gillon McLachlan news

McLachlan has been in the top job since 2014.

He is reportedly keen to play a part in nominating his successor.

According to The Age, the AFL's football boss Andrew Dillon and executive Travis Auld, as well as Richmond CEO Brendon Gale, are all contenders.

Gale interviewed for the role eight years ago when McLachlan was appointed following the departure of Andrew Demetriou.

McLachlan started at the AFL more than 20 years ago as a strategy consultant, holding numerous roles including GM commercial operations and chief commercial officer.

Gillon McLachlan and wife Laura Blythe, pictured here at the 2022 AFLW W Awards at Crown Palladium in Melbourne.
Gillon McLachlan and wife Laura Blythe at the 2022 AFLW W Awards at Crown Palladium in Melbourne. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

He served as Demtroiou's right-hand man for a number of years before ascending to the top job.

Among the most significant achievements during McLachlan's time at the helm was the introduction of the AFLW competition, which will expand again to 18 teams for the upcoming season.

He informed Goyder over the weekend of his decision to step aside.

"From my point of view and the Commission's point of view it would be correct to say that we're not happy with that decision but we are completely supportive of it, if you get that sense," said Goyder.

"Gill has always said to me that he wanted to go at the top of his game, at the time of his choosing and when the AFL was in as good a shape as it can be.

"And I think that's fair play and the Commission thinks that's fair play and certainly fair for him and his family.

"He's done an outstanding job."

AFL fans and commentators reacted to the news on social media.

with AAP

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