AFL appoints Andrew Dillon as new CEO

AFL appoints Andrew Dillon as new CEO

Andrew Dillon speaks to the media in Adelaide in March 2023 (via AFL Photos)

Australia's leading sporting organisation today announced Andrew Dillon has been promoted internally to take over as the AFL’s CEO at the conclusion of the 2023 season following a year-long search to find Gillon McLachlan’s successor.

Dillon has been with the AFL since 2000, arriving as an in-house lawyer and has since held numerous legal and administrative roles, including executive general manager of football operations, legal and integrity, in addition to his role as general counsel.

He will act as the CEO-elect for the remainder of the season before officially taking over in early October from McLachlan, who has been the AFL's chief executive since April 2014.

McLachlan initially announced he would step down from his role at the end of the 2022 season, but stayed on to oversee big decisions regarding the league, including the proposed entry of a Tasmanian club into the AFL and broadcast deals with Seven West Media and Foxtel.

"I am honoured and truly humbled to lead the greatest game in the world into its next phase," Dillon said.

"Football has been a defining part of my life and it is a privilege to be able to lead the industry in ensuring our game remains relevant, accessible and welcoming to all Australians.

"It is important that we continue to strengthen every part of our game, from the 18 AFL clubs, who all now have both AFL and AFLW programs, right through to the grassroots and I am looking forward to working with our AFL team, our clubs, our players and the wider industry to ensure our game expands its reach.”

The news of his appointment comes three weeks after it was revealed that the four-day AFL festival Gather Round, which injected more than $85 million into South Australia’s economy, will remain in Adelaide until 2026.

According to the AFL, more than 220,000 fans attended fixtures at Adelaide Oval, Norwood Oval and Mount Barker, with around 27 per cent of footy fans buying tickets from interstate.

As part of the three-year term, both the AFL and SA Government have committed to establishing a community football legacy fund intended to benefit local clubs beyond the festival period.

The deal was struck after Adelaide Airport announced more than 115,000 passengers passed through to experience the AFL bonanza in SA.

"It is really important that we are a game for everyone, a game that is accessible, affordable and safe and a game where everyone feels welcome,” Dillon said.

"Our AFL and community clubs are the lifeblood of our game, and I will be club and community focused and committed to ensuring the game will be at the core of the AFL’s decision making.

"I believe in the power of football to connect people regardless of our background, gender or beliefs and want us to work to have footy in every home across the country.”

AFL general manager of competition management Laura Kane will take on the role of acting general manager of football, while general manager of legal and regulatory Stephen Meade has been appointed as general counsel.

"Andrew has been a key leader and voice in every decision we have made as an organisation for many years, and he brings not only experience across both elite and community football but also a key involvement in our major broadcast and partnership deals and in developing and shaping the AFL’s response to a number of key social issues," AFL chairman Richard Goyder said.

"Andrew is a well-known and highly respected leader and has great support across the industry for his calm, considered and collaborative approach. To do this role, you need a genuine love for the game and Andrew has a massive love and care for the game that he has demonstrated over his 23 years at the AFL.

“He knows football, he knows the football community, he knows our supporters, our volunteers and participants and he has a clear vision of taking our game to more and more people.”

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