It s all about the fans: McLachlan
It's all about the fans: McLachlan

The new AFL chief executive has cast himself as a man of the people and promised to re-connect with the average fan after being appointed as Andrew Demetriou's replacement yesterday.

Gillon McLachlan was a hot favourite for the position after serving as Demetriou's deputy and beat Geelong CEO Brian Cook and Richmond CEO Brendon Gale to earn the top job.

He takes over at a time when the game has been questioned over ticket prices and playing style. McLachlan said he would listen to the fans because he had always been a grassroots football person.

McLachlan was a ruckman for University Blues in the Victorian Amateur Football Association, playing with or against a large number of key AFL or club staff.

He is also keen on polo, having represented Victoria.

"I understand the passion of football," McLachlan said.

"I've been part of the community of football and I know how important it is. I played over 240 games of amateur or country football, I've captained a club, I've been on the committee of a club, I'm a life member of a club.

"I've had my share of cold showers and freezing committee meetings. I've been part of the process of appointing coaches and part of the process of sacking coaches. I know how our game is an intrinsic part of so many people's lives."

McLachlan said he would be a different leader to Demetriou, promising to use a style of "collaboration and engagement".

He described the fans, the community, the clubs and the players as his "four masters", but said it was important for the AFL to listen to the fans and address the cost of going to the football.

"We hear fans about the total cost of going to a game. We will be addressing the cost of going to the football," McLachlan said.

"Cost is more than just ticketing. It's ticketing charges, it's food and beverage, it's the total cost of going to the football.

"We will work through that issue and look to make sure everything we do focuses on the fan. That includes costs, it includes complexity of ticketing, it includes scheduling."

McLachlan, 40, expressed support for keeping a day grand final and the centre bounce. He said the AFL had the correct number of teams and a decision on playing on Good Friday would be made next month.

Demetriou will remain at the AFL until June 5 - the day after the Hall of Fame function.

McLachlan said he would have left the AFL if he hadn't received the job. The NRL approached him to be CEO in 2012 but he said football was his passion and he had a vision for the future.

"That vision is about having an unassailable hold on the Australian community," he said.

"Success will mean ultimately three things - that we are truly national, we are truly representative and we are truly connected to the community."

The West Australian

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