An all-star cast of men and women within the ranks of the AFL and outside the inner sanctum will be considered to replace outgoing CEO Gillon McLachlan.
McLachlan made the announcement that he will stand down at the end of the 2022 season during an emotional address on Tuesday morning.
He will ‘provide notes’ during the search for his replacement as a number of contenders emerge, including three women who could potentially become the first female AFL boss in the competition’s 126-year history.
McLachlan and speak to media after announcing McLachlan will step down from his role at the end of the season
‘I think this timeline gives Richard and the commission the right runway to work through the succession process and allows us, me and the [AFL executive] team, to time to close out what we need to do to bring this thing to what we have been planning on,’ McLachlan said.
‘[Chairman] Richard [Goyder] and the commission, it is their decision to make. What I am certain about, whoever plays the role will be different and will have to bring their own style and be their own person.
‘That is my only advice, whoever gets the role, be your own self and be your own person and you will be OK. That was advice given to me by [former AFL CEO]Andrew Demetriou.’
‘I’m really looking forward to it,’ Goyder said on finding a new CEO to replace McLachlan.
‘Gil has built a strong executive team internally, but this is an important decision and we will undertake a rigorous process to ensure we have the best person to take over the role.’
Goyder added that a number of prominent male and female contenders would be considered for the role while 7NEWS reporter Tom Browne said: ‘One president has just told me it may timely to appoint the first female CEO’.
Daily Mail Australia reveals the candidates most likely to be considered for the top job:
Senior vice president and managing director, The Walt Disney Company Australia and New Zealand, Kylie Watson-Wheeler is also the Western Bulldogs president
Senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company, Australia and New Zealand
President of The Western Bulldogs
Watson-Wheeler is a lifelong Bulldogs supporter and was a board member since 2013 before she was unanimously elected as president in 2020 during the Covid pandemic. She is just the second female club president in the AFL after Richmond’s Peggy O’Neal and is now firmly in the mix to become the first female CEO of the league.
Auld (centre) looks on as Gillon McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer of the AFL speaks to media after announcing he will step down from his role at the end of the season
AFL CFO and GM Broadcasting and Clubs
Veteran AFL reporter Gerard Whateley has installed the AFL executive as the warm favourite to succeed McLachlan.
‘Internally I feel like the candidate that they have settled on is Travis Auld,’ Whateley said.
AFL head of legal and integrity and executive general manager of football
Another warm favourite from the current Executive to replace McLachlan. He worked with the outgoing CEO for many years and was promoted to be the head of the football department in 2021. Taking the next step up the ladder would be a logical progression for Dillon and he will be firmly in the mix.
Richmond Tigers head coach Damien Hardwick, outgoing president Peggy O’Neal, Eddie Betts of Carlton Blues and Richmond Tigers CEO Brendon Gale
Richmond chief executive
The former AFL Players’ Association boss arrived at Richmond when they were battling with a 10-year vision that would ultimately deliver the club three premierships. He has transformed the Tigers from cellar dwellers into one of the strongest teams in the AFL on and off the park, a journey that would position him well to take the AFL’s top job.
Christine Holgate is the former head of Australia Post and current CEO of Toll Global Express, She is a Collingwood board member and a contender to be AFL CEO
Chief Executive Officer of Toll Global Express and Collingwood board member
The former Australia Post boss was awarded the 2015 CEO of the Year by both The CEO Magazine and The CEO Institute, the first female to win the latter award. She was flagged as a suitable candidate to replace McLachlan in 2021 and did not rule out going for the AFL’s top job.
‘I am a diehard Collingwood fan and a massive and proud supporter of the AFL,’ she told the Herald Sun in 2021.
St Kilda’s Max King, AFL Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial Kylie Rogers and Essendon’s Andrew McGrath
AFL executive general manager customer and commercial
One of Rogers’ greatest accomplishments was engineering the naming rights for Marvel Stadium that reported brought $70 million into the AFL coffers. She negotiated the deal with Disney-owned entertainment company Marvel for the AFL-owned stadium.
She is responsible the management of all of the revenue brought into the game by fans through think ticketing, AFL membership, events and licensing along with commercial revenue from around 50 different advertisers and corporate partners.
Chief executive officer of the Foxtel Group
7NEWS reporter Tom Browne has flagged Foxtel boss Patrick Delaney as a potential successor and said his name had been discussed by AFL powerbrokers. The former Fox Sports boss also spent time as GM of media and broadcasting at the AFL.
Jayne Hrdlicka, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Australian speaks to the media during the Virgin Australia and AFL partnership announcement
Virgin Australia CEO
Hrdlicka previously worked for Jetstar where she doubled profits and she was instrumental in brokering a five-year deal between Virgin Australia and the AFL after taking on the top job there in 2020. She also raised the profits of A2 Milk as CEO by almost 40 per cent and was elected as the first female chair of Tennis Australia. Ticks every box and has worked well with McLachlan.