Big names  show AFLs serious side
Power play: West Coast's Alan Cransberg. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

The days of "liniment sniffers" running AFL clubs are over as business rather than on-field success drives football.

Former players no longer dominate club boardrooms where high-profile leaders from business, banking and media now push the corporate buttons.

A breakdown of every AFL club board reveals one-third of the 134 AFL club board members can be labelled business leaders.

The West Coast board is one of the most business charged.

Headed by Alcoa Australia managing director Alan Cransberg, it includes two business managing directors and until recently Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

The Fremantle board includes former players, a lawyer, business operators and is headed by The Brand Agency's managing director Steve Harris.

Builder Dale Alcock said the professionalism impressed him when he joined the board in 2012.

Rather than "liniment sniffers" and Monday coaches, the board was focused clearly on business.

He said football club leaders had to focus on a broad strategy and not the team's performance.

"I'm not a footballer, the board can't be thinking about who is playing next week or how the team went last week," he said. "The first thing is to make clear that this is a business, that it is beyond a sporting club."

Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said the increased involvement of business figures was a change for the better.

"Boards of football clubs have always had the odd professional or key executive from other firms but more so now it's not just one or two people, six or seven hold pretty high-profile positions," he said. "Boards these days are akin to a public company."

Former players still have a presence, with 19 on various boards, but many also have a corporate background. Sydney Swans former player Jason Ball is a Macquarie Bank stockbroker.

Finance representatives have a bigger presence than players.

They include Australia Post head and former NAB senior executive Ahmed Fahour (Carlton) and high-profile accountant Mark Korda (Collingwood).

Media representation has grown sharply. Collingwood's Eddie McGuire is best known but Port Adelaide's rise under recent chairman David Koch has highlighted the importance of high- profile leaders.

GWS board member Christine Crawley is the sole school principal on any league board and its head is Business Council president and Transfield Services chairman Tony Shepherd.

The West Australian

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West