Dillon certainly played it safe at Monday’s press conference, reading out a speech heavy on platitudes and light on vision. But perhaps that is what the AFL needs right now: a reliable operator to tie up McLachlan’s loose ends. And there are a few.
The Hawthorn probe is unlikely to be complete come September. Any action required will probably fall due on Dillon’s watch. AFLW, the women’s league that McLachlan deserves much of the credit for backing, still probably requires decades of work to become a financial success story on par with the men’s competition.
The concussion issue may play out for years, depending on legal precedents and recommendations from the parliamentary inquiry. Tasmania’s expansion, $240 million Hobart stadium deal now done, will nevertheless require diplomatic and deal-making skills to milk the best return for the league.
Then there’s gambling, which The Age has long identified as a reputational risk for the AFL, particularly sponsorships, on-ground advertisements and, more insidiously, the bloated broadcast rights that are shored up by profligate spending by betting companies. Fans don’t like it. That the AFL presents as family-friendly, community-minded and accessible to all is not a good fit with the well-chronicled ills of betting addiction.