AFL CEO Gill McLachlan. Picture: AFL Photos

At the head of the AFL structure is the AFL Commission comprising eight commissioners. They are Chairman Richard Goyder, AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan, Paul Bassat, Robin Bishop, Professor Helen Milroy, Andrew Newbold, Gab Trainor and Simone Wilkie.

The chief executive officer is appointed by the AFL Commission and is responsible for the operating performance of the AFL and the implementation of policy decided by the commission. He is also the public face of the commission.


Richard Goyder is the chairman of Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Qantas Airways Ltd, JDRF Australia, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Channel 7 Telethon Trust. Formerly he was Chairman of the Australian B20 (the key business advisory body to the international economic forum which includes business leaders from all G20 economies). He was the Managing Director and CEO of Wesfarmers Limited from July 2005 to November 2017. He also previously held the roles of Finance Director between 2002 and 2004 and Deputy Managing Director and CFO between 2004 and 2005. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2013 for distinguished service to business through executive roles and through the promotion of corporate sponsorship of the arts and indigenous programs, and to the community. He was a director of the Fremantle Football Club from 2006 until September 2011 and played amateur football with University and Old Scotch in WA. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2011. Appointed Chairman of the AFL Commission in March, 2017. 


Gillon McLachlan has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Worked in a strategic role at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) that involved a variety of industries in different countries. This included a six-month contract in the Philippines. Joined the AFL in May 2000 as a strategic planner and was appointed General Manager Commercial Operations in November 2003 before taking on the additional areas of broadcasting and major projects in 2006. Was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2008 with responsibility for AFL broadcasting and digital media, fixturing, venue agreements and stadia infrastructure. Appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in December 2012 and Chief Executive Officer (replacing Andrew Demetriou) on April 30, 2014.  


Paul Bassat is a co-founder of Square Peg, which is a venture capital fund focused on investing in early stage technology companies in Australia, Israel and South East Asia. He is a director of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation and the P&S Bassat Foundation. He co-founded SEEK in 1997 and served as CEO and then joint CEO from 1997-2011 and served as a director of Wesfarmers from 2012-18. He started his career as a lawyer and practised for six years. He holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from The University of Melbourne. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2012 


Robin Bishop is a founding partner of BGH Capital, a private equity firm based in Melbourne. BGH raised Australia’s largest private equity fund at $2.6 billion in 2018. Previously, Bishop was head of Macquarie Capital Australia, the region’s largest and most active investment banking team. Bishop has led more than $100 billion in mergers and acquisitions transactions and more than $40 billion in capital raising assignments across a range of sectors and markets. Bishop is a non-executive director of the Burnet Institute for Medical Research and serves on the Australian Takeovers Panel. Bishop received a Bachelor of Commerce, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2017. 


Professor Milroy is a descendant of the Palkyu people of the Pilbara region in WA but was born and educated in Perth. She is the Stan Perron Chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Perth Children’s Hospital and University of Western Australia, Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission and Board Member of Beyond Blue. From 2013-17, Professor Milroy was a Commissioner with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Professor Milroy has led work for many years in Australia around Aboriginal mental health with a focus on the wellbeing of children. She has more than 30 years’ experience in clinical services and mental health systems. She has played a key role in the development of mental health policy, research and clinical services. Widely published as a researcher and academic, Professor Milroy has received numerous awards for her contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, psychotherapy, education and academic excellence. She is the joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize. She joined the AFL Commission in March 2019. 


Andrew Newbold joined the AFL Commission at the start of 2016 after retiring as Chairman and President of the Hawthorn Football Club. In his time as President, the club played in four consecutive Grand Finals from 2012, winning three premierships. He played a key role in the growth and success of the club over his 13 years as President and a director. Newbold is a qualified lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience in practising commercial law. Following his retirement from law in 2006, Newbold started a renewable energy business which he sold to an ASX top 20 company in 2009. He is an executive director of the boutique finance house Supra Capital Limited, the Chairman of Althea Group Holdings Limited, SEDA Group and Golf Australia. Previously, Newbold has been a director of a number of private companies and not-for-profit organisations, including the Australian Childhood Foundation and Victorian Deaf Society. He was appointed to the AFL Commission in 2016.  


Gabrielle Trainor is a former lawyer, journalist, public sector executive and consultant in public policy, government relations and issues management. She has more than 25 years’ experience as a non-executive director in entities operating in urban development, major projects, transport and infrastructure. Her current board positions include Zurich Australia, Infrastructure Australia, the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (Vic), Western Parkland City Authority, the City Renewal Authority (ACT), construction company Built and listed investment company WAM Global. She is a trustee of the Charlie Perkins Trust. Trainor was appointed as an inaugural Director of the Greater Western Sydney Giants Football Club in 2011 and chaired the Giants’ Integrity Committee. She has lifelong experience in football, from volunteering for the Willoughby Wildcats in the Sydney AFL juniors’ competition to sitting on the AFL Commission NSW/ACT for 10 years, where she championed the movement to better integrate the Sydney Women’s AFL with the Commission. Her grandfather, Frank, and father, Tony, were presidents of North Melbourne for a total of 22 years. Appointed to the AFL Commission in March 2016.


Simone Wilkie was raised in Ballarat, where football played a central part in family life. She retired from the Army as a Major General after completing 35 years’ service including senior appointments in operations and training, and active service in Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan. She chaired the Australian Defence Force Sports Council for five years, overseeing major reforms and the development and management of Australia’s Invictus Games Teams. She is a Senior Advisor with Boston Consulting Group; a member of the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal; and a non-executive Director of AFL SportsReady, and The Beaufort Group. Appointed to the AFL Commission in 2015.

Organisational structure

The AFL, under the Chief Executive, is divided into departments led by Executive General Managers across each of these areas of executive responsibility.

Chief Executive Officer: Gillon McLachlan
Gillon McLachlan has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne. Worked in a strategic role at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) that involved a variety of industries in different countries. This included a six-month contract in the Philippines. Joined the AFL in May 2000 as a strategic planner and was appointed General Manager Commercial Operations in November 2003 before taking on the additional areas of broadcasting and major projects in 2006. Was promoted to the position of Chief Operating Officer in 2008 with responsibility for AFL broadcasting and digital media, fixturing, venue agreements and stadia infrastructure. Appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer in December 2012 and Chief Executive Officer (replacing Andrew Demetriou) on April 30, 2014.

Executive General Manager Football Operations, Legal & Integrity | General Counsel: Andrew Dillon
Has a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Melbourne and a post-graduate diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia. Undertook Articled Clerkship at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in 1994 and was subsequently employed as a solicitor in Corrs’ Commercial Division. From October 1997 to August 2000, worked as in-house legal counsel at Village Roadshow Limited. Joined the AFL in August 2000 as Legal Counsel and was appointed General Manager – Legal and Business Affairs in July 2004. In December 2011, was appointed as General Manager of National and International Development and General Counsel. In 2013 was Appointed General Manager, Legal, Integrity and Compliance in addition to General Counsel. In March 2017, in addition to the role of General Counsel, General Manager of Integrity and Compliance, Dillon took on the responsibility of Game Development, which saw him responsible for all the community and state football leagues, community and state football facilities and infrastructure and the relationships with all AFL state bodies. In July 2021, Dillon acted as Executive General Manager Football Operations in addition to his other duties and was formally appointed to his current position in September 2021.

Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs, Government and Communications: Brian Walsh
Walsh rejoined the AFL in September 2019 as General Manager, having previously worked at the AFL between 2005-11 as the League’s first Corporate Affairs Manager. After beginning his career in newspapers, working in senior reporting, editing and management roles including Managing Editor (Sport), he has been a senior communications and issues management executive across the past two decades. From the AFL, under Andrew Demetriou, he was appointed General Manager Corporate Communications for NAB before founding Bastion Reputation Management in 2015 where he was CEO while also serving as a director of the North Melbourne FC. His role combines the AFL’s key work in both media, communications and government relations, along with the AFL’s work in the community to support charitable work.

Executive General Manager Customer and Commercial: Kylie Rogers
One of Australia’s leading commercial and media executives, having worked at Network Ten for 17 years in a number of roles, including National Commercial Director, and National Head of Generate, the network’s in-house content, strategy and integration agency. Rogers joined the AFL in December 2017 from Mamamia, Australia’s largest women’s media company. As Commercial Director and then Managing Director, she oversaw significant growth and profitability for the organisation in Australia and internationally. EGM Commercial and Customer is responsible for the AFL’s Corporate and Consumer Business Divisions, which includes corporate partnerships, advertising sales, membership, hospitality, ticketing and events, which generate total AFL non-broadcast revenue of more than $230 million a year. From November 2020, the portfolio was expanded to now oversee marketing, digital media including the AFL’s website ( and app, Marvel Stadium operations and the customer and fan experience.

Executive General Manager People: Sarah Fair
A HR professional and change management specialist, Fair was appointed to the AFL Executive in March 2017. Fair has extensive experience in driving sustainable change to create high-performing organisations with talented people, who love what they do, live and breathe the values and have the capability to deliver on what’s most important. She is also a Director of Melbourne Stadiums Limited, following the AFL’s acquisition of Marvel Stadium. Her previous experience includes Head of Diversity and Head of Culture at Australia Post, attracted by the prospect of working with talented people on one of Australia’s largest, most complex transformational change agendas. Before joining Australia Post, Fair was a Senior Organisational Development Consultant at global management consulting firm Right Management, where she had the opportunity to work across a number of industries on key change projects including retail, fast-moving consumer goods, financial services, government, construction and mining. 

Executive General Manager Game Development: Rob Auld
Completed a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting. During a 15-year career with Lion, Rob worked across finance, logistics and sales in winery and dairy business units, while involved in the game at community level as a player, coach and president in Victoria. Joined the AFL in 2016 as CEO of AFL Tasmania. In 2018, he was appointed to Head of Game Development, working with State bodies focussing on community football at all levels nationally. In 2020, was appointed General Manager of AFL competitions including umpiring, competition management, game analysis and player movement. Appointed in November 2021 to the role of Executive General Manager Game Development, which includes responsibility for all participation and programs including the portfolios of Auskick, Schools, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Community Football governance and facility development.

Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy: Tanya Hosch
Ms. Hosch has a long and distinguished history in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander policy, advocacy, governance and is an accomplished public speaker.  Before joining the AFL as the first ever Indigenous person and second woman in their Executive ranks in August 2016, Tanya was the Joint Campaign director of the Recognise movement for constitutional recognition. At the AFL Tanya’s portfolios include – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues, Gender Equality, Sexuality and Gender Diversity, racism and sexism.  Tanya is tasked with the implementation of the AFL’s enhanced Indigenous strategy, advising the AFL National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council, maintenance of the Respect and Responsibility Policy, 2017, and the Gender Diversity Policy. Tanya is a Co-Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Group of the National Australia Bank, an ANU Council member, Director of the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), a Board Director of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School and was a member of the Referendum Council that led the process and final recommendation that resulted in The Statement from the Heart in May 2017.  A career highlight was contributing as a Consultant on the ABC drama, Total Control. In October 2020, Tanya was announced as the South Australian of the Year for 2021. In October 2021, Tanya was also named sixth on the Australian Financial Review Cultural Power list and and in December 2021, Tanya was named 23rd on South Australian’s Most Influential People list.

Executive General Manager Finance, Clubs and Broadcast: Travis Auld
With more than 20 years of industry experience, Auld joined the Essendon Football Club in 1997 and in December 2000 was appointed the club’s Chief Operating Officer, with responsibilities across strategy, commercial operations, football operations, financial management, governance, community relations and media. Appointed inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Gold Coast Suns in June 2009. Led the development and implementation of the strategic plan to establish the club for its entry to the AFL competition in 2011. After joining the AFL in September 2014, is now responsible for the industry’s finances, the relationship with the competition’s 18 clubs, the television and radio broadcaster partners, along with the fixturing process for both the national men’s and women’s competitions. Holds a Bachelor of Business from La Trobe University and is an associate of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Institute of Company Directors.

Executive General Manager Strategy: Walter Lee
Appointed to the AFL Executive in March 2017. Walter leads teams responsible for strategic planning, technology and data analytics at the AFL. Walter is responsible for driving the overall strategy of the AFL and managing strategic investments in the competition’s expansion and growth.  Walter is closely involved in the AFL Broadcast and Media Rights Agreements, AFL Players Collective Bargaining Agreements and Competitive Balance and Club Funding models.  In his broader role, he is overseeing the ongoing transformation of technology, data and analytics across the AFL and Clubs. Walter joined the AFL in 2009 on secondment from strategy consultancy, Booz Allen Hamilton.  Prior to the AFL, he worked globally across the resources, government, communications and technology sectors. Walter is currently serves as a board member of sports data and technology businesses, Champion Data and PlayHQ.  Walter holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with Melbourne Business School and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).


AFL All Australian and NAB AFL Rising Star Selectors
Gillon McLachlan (chairperson), Kevin Bartlett, Eddie Betts, Jude Bolton, Nathan Buckley, Kane Cornes, Andrew Dillon, Glen Jakovich, Laura Kane, Cameron Ling, Matthew Pavlich.
Kevin Sheehan is also a selector for the AFL Rising Star Award.

AFLW All Australian and NAB AFLW Rising Star selectors
Nicole Livingstone (chair), Sarah Black, Andrew Dillon, Tim Harrington, Laura Kane, Brad Scott, Narelle Smith, Kelli Underwood, Sam Virgo, Megan Waters.

AFL Audit and Risk Committee
Andrew Newbold (chair), Robin Bishop, Richard Goyder AO, Gab Trainor).

AFLW Competition Committee
Simone Wilkie, AO (Chair), Nicole Livingstone, Laura Kane, Diana Taylor, Brendon Gale, Michelle Cowan, Breeanna Brock, Bec Goddard, Jess Burger, Julia Chiera, Kate Roffey, Hannah Priest, Erin Phillips. 

Australian Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee  
Richard Goyder AO (chair), Graham Cornes, Ross Glendinning, Debbie Lee, Karen Lyon, Paul Marsh, Alister Nicholson, Michael O’Loughlin, David Parkin, Patrick Keane (secretary).

AFL Indigenous Advisory Council
Paul Briggs (co-chair), Helen Milroy (co- chair), Shaun Burgoyne, Xavier Clarke, Tanya Hosch, Alicia Janz, Dr Joe Morrison, Gabrielle Trainor AO, Pat Turner, Paul Vandenbergh.

AFL Investment Committee
Richard Goyder AO (chair), Travis Auld, Robin Bishop, Matthew Chun, Craig Drummond, Walter Lee, Gillon McLachlan, Andrew Pridham.

AFL Life Members’ Nominations Committee - Gillon McLachlan (chair), Glenn McFarlane, David Parkin. Patrick Keane (secretary).

AFL Chief Medical Officer - Dr Michael Makdissi

AFL Remuneration Committee
Richard Goyder, Paul Bassat, Robin Bishop, Sarah Fair, Gillon McLachlan, Simone Wilkie.

AFL SportsReady Ltd Board
The Hon Justin Madden AM (Chair), James Montgomery (CEO), Bianca Chatfield, Lisa Hasker, Marilyn Morgan.

AFL and AFLW Tribunals / Appeals Board
Tribunal Chairs: Jeffrey Gleeson KC, Renee Enbom KC  
Tribunal Panel Members: Michelle Dench, Wayne Henwood, Jason Johnson, Stephen Jurica, Richard Loveridge, Stewart Loewe, Shannon McFerran, David Neitz, Paul Williams, Shane Wakelin, Talia Radan, Darren Gaspar, Jordan Bannister, Scott Stevens. 
Appeal Board Chairs: Murray Kellam KC, John Middleton.
Appeal Board Panel Members:  Wayne Henwood, Stephen Jurica, Richard Loveridge
AFL Tribunal Counsel: Nick Pane KC, Andrew Woods, Sally Flynn KC, Lisa Hannon KC, Sam Bird
Tribunal Secretary: Matthew Whitaker
Match Review Officer: Michael Christian
Match Review Secretary: Hamish Anderson 

Jim Stynes Community Award Selection Panel
Trisha Squires (chair), Luke Darcy, Andrew Dillon, Jude Donnelly, Sarah Fair, Sam Ludbey-Stynes, Neil Mitchell, Brett Murphy, Kim Williams.

Historic AFL / VFL Office-holder Material

1897-1915: Alex McCracken, JP
1915-17: O. Morrice Williams
1918-19: Charles Brownlow
1919-25: Sir Baldwin Spencer
1926-55: Dr W.M.C. McClelland, CBE, JP
1956-71: Sir Kenneth Luke, CM, JP
1971-76: Sir Maurice Nathan, KBE
1977-84: Dr Allen Aylett, OBE

1897-1929: Edwin Wilson
1929-56: Like McBrien, OBE
1956-76: Eric McCutchan, OBE
1977-84: Jack Hamilton, AM
1985-86: Alan Schwab

1984-86: Jack Hamilton, AM

1986-93: Ross Oakley
1993-97: John Kennedy
1998-2007: Ron Evans
2007-16: Mike Fitzpatrick
Since 2017: Richard Goyder

1986-93: Alan Schwab

1993-96: Ross Oakley
1996-2003: Wayne Jackson
2003-14: Andrew Demetriou
Since 2014: Gillon McLachlan

Australian Football: A short history of the national game's evolution

Australian Football is a domestic football code and is the largest professional sport, winter or summer, in Australia, by the measures of yearly fan attendance, membership of the elite professional clubs, television audiences, broadcast contract arrangements and financial turnover of the clubs and competition.

The AFL (Australian Football League) is the body that manages both the national elite competitions for men (AFL) and women (AFLW), as well as promotion and development of the game at community level, via grants and support to state-based and community-based leagues, which are semi-professional or amateur depending on their size.

Historically, matches began from the late 1850s and two of the current elite AFL clubs at senior level, Melbourne (1858) and the Geelong Cats (1859) are among the oldest continuous sporting clubs in the world.

The game's initial strength in its formative years was in the southern and western regions of Australia with organised senior state-level competitions in existence since the 1870s and expansion into the northern states for more than a century.

The current AFL competition was originally known as the Victorian Football League (VFL). It was founded in 1896 as a breakaway competition from the Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing the following year.

The VFL, aiming to become a national competition, began expanding beyond Victoria to other Australian states in the 1980s, and changed its name to the AFL in 1990. New teams were added in time from Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, while the original senior state league competitions in SA (the SANFL) and WA (the WAFL), continue to this day, but no longer as the primary competitions in their respective regions with state-based teams as part of the AFL.

Since its beginnings, Australian Football has maintained a high proportion of female supporters. It also has many Indigenous footballers playing at the elite level. 

The game is played between two sides of 18 (16 for women's competitions), with four reserve players (five for women), on an oval between 160-180m in length and 90-120m in width. Scoring is with six points for a major score and one point for a minor score with seasons running between 18 and 22 weeks, followed by a finals (playoff) series to determine the ultimate winner of the competition.

More than one million Australians are members of an elite AFL club, representing approximately one in 26 Australians, while television audiences number more than seven million per year. 

The AFL season currently consists of a 23-round regular (or 'home and away') season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The team with the best record after the home and away series is awarded the "minor premiership". The top-eight teams then play off in a four-round finals series, culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The Grand Final winner is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup.