New era: Gillon McLachlan with Mike Fitzpatrick. Photo: Pat ScalaGillon McLachlan’s appointment as AFL chief executive and the almost certain contract extension at Greater Western Sydney for club boss David Matthews is a dream outcome for the competition’s youngest entity.
Matthews’ decision not to challenge for Andrew Demetriou’s vacated post, and McLachlan’s appointment to the pre-eminent executive position in Australian sport, ensures for the foreseeable future a high-powered and deeply-rooted partnership strongly committed to the AFL’s drive into Sydney’s west.
McLachlan and Matthews are close friends and professional associates. They worked together on the AFL executive for 11 years.
“Personally I’ve become very good friends with him over a long period of time,” Matthews said.
“A lot of the people on the executive have had young families together and, in many ways, grown up together.
“Professionally, he’s had such a big hand in expansion and improved broadcast coverage in places like NSW. He’s attuned to what’s required up here, as was Andrew.
“He gets things done, he supports what we’re trying to achieve, so it’s a great appointment for the Giants.”
Matthews was an early contender to take over from Demetriou, but he decided not to apply. The former game development leader is contracted to the Giants until late 2015 and is expected to be given an extension.
“I got asked by the search firm to have a conversation about the role, what it entailed and where I sat with things,” he said.
“I had that discussion because I think, in this industry, it’s obviously useful to get across those sort of matters and have a look.
“But I’m really enjoying the Giants. It wouldn’t be the right timing for me or the club. I’ve got a lot of unfinished business that I want to work on with the club. I was happy enough to have a conversation but it didn’t go anywhere after that.”
Matthews said expansion was the “No.1 priority” for the AFL Commission and executive.
“Within that, there’s no doubt [McLachlan] is completely across the challenges and opportunities that Sydney presents,” he said.
“From our point of view, to have someone in the chair who succeeds Andrew and has the same corporate memory and vision as Andrew is really important to us.
“We’ve always worked very well together, Gillon and I. I can only see our working relationship growing through his appointment and the future I have at the Giants.”
McLachlan, the AFL’s former broadcasting and commercial operations manager, has long been at the forefront of the Sydney push.
In an interview in 2008, he said the governing body would stop at nothing to ensure the success of a second Sydney club.
“We’ve invested heavily in Sydney, particularly in the past three or four years,” he said. “The next step is to get a team out there. We’ll do this in a way that will be successful … We’ll do whatever is required. We’ll spend whatever it takes to ensure we have a presence out there.”
Before training on Wednesday, GWS head coach Leon Cameron said he had come to know McLachlan well over the past 18 months and felt confident in his appointment.
“He’s a big fan of our football club … he understands the challenges we face up here in terms of growing the game, membership, growing support, starting with a young side and becoming competitive,” Cameron said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.