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Gillon McLachlan’s Impact On The AFL


As the 2022 AFL Grand Final approaches, which will be the final AFL game CEO Gillon McLachlan oversees, Ministry of Sport looked at his major achievements as the league’s boss.

After eight years at the helm, McLachlan will step away from the league at the end of the year after over seeing nine AFL and seven AFLW seasons.

Before landing the AFL’s top job, McLachlan played a major role under former CEO Andrew Demetriou, where he was pivotal in helping expansion teams, the Gold Coast Suns and GWS GIANTS, enter the league, while also helping deliver them new stadiums.

Throughout his eight-year tenure, McLachlan oversaw three separate broadcasting rights tenders, where the league landed the largest broadcasting deal in Australian sports history in 2015, which saw Foxtel, Seven and Telstra pay AUD$2.5 billion over six years.

The media rights record was again broken this year, which saw Seven and Fox agree to pay AUD$4.5 billion over a further six years, with the deal also making the AFL and AFLW more accessible than ever.

In addition to their TV rights agreements, McLachlan also oversaw a AUD$1.5 billion media rights deal in 2021.

Aside from media deals, McLachlan oversaw the league’s crucial acquisition of Marvel Stadium in 2016, which proved to be pivotal in keeping teams afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the disrupted 2020 season, he also established hubs in Queensland and South Australia, while delivering a AUD$200 million surplus.

While building the men’s game, the AFL chief also fast-tracked the launch of the AFLW, which started in 2017 with 14 teams.

Now, in its seventh season, McLachlan has overseen the expansion to include all 18 teams through the pandemic, with efforts in the AFLW seeing a 6.5% increase in participation from 2017 to 2018 and a 14.2% increase from 2018 to 2019.

Finally, McLachlan landed a AUD$500 million deal with the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to keep the stadium as the exclusive host of the AFL Grand Final, excluding 2020 in Brisbane and 2021 in Perth, until 2058.

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