Can new AFL CEO Andrew Dillon change the game?

Andrew Dillon’s appointment sees another middle-aged white man land the AFL’s top job. Can he fulfil his pledge of making footy more accessible to all?

Richard Goyder, Incoming AFL CEO Andrew Dillon and Gillon McLachlan (Image: AAP/James Ross)
Richard Goyder, Incoming AFL CEO Andrew Dillon and Gillon McLachlan (Image: AAP/James Ross)

It’s been more than a year since Gillon McLachlan announced his resignation as AFL CEO at an emotional press conference, but finally the hunt for his replacement has concluded. The protracted search, which scoured the country for potential successors, finally finished up within AFL House and the internal appointment of the executive general manager of football operations, Andrew Dillon.

It is far from a bold or risky appointment — it calls to mind a football team with a narrow lead playing the ball around late in the game to avoid a loss. American journalist Sydney J Harris once mused that “our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better”. This is often the way things are in sport: the old institutions are slow to change, afraid to make any sudden movements and jeopardise all that they have spent years building. 

When McLachlan steps down in October, the heir to his throne will be made in his image — another privately educated white man in his early 50s with a long history as an amateur footballer and a professional football administrator. The reassurance to those watching is built into this appointment: the AFL will not stray from its core values, and there is no cause for concern. This assessment of the situation was reiterated in the endorsement of Dillon during the press conference on Monday by AFL chair Richard Goyder AO.

Read more about how the new AFL CEO could help change the game…

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