AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced he will step down from the role at season's end.
After eight years in the top job, McLachlan informed the AFL Commission over the weekend that he indented to leave the role while still "at the top of his game".
McLachlan's leadership across the eight years has been heralded by the wider football community since taking over the top job from Andrew Demetriou in 2014.
"I'm leaving now because it feels right - for the AFL, for me and my family. The AFL is in incredible shape on whatever metric you assess it," McLachlan said at a press conference alongside Commission chairman Richard Goyder.
"There's relief, there's regret and everything - it's an emotional day. I feel really good about where the league is and I feel good about the fact it's the right time (to leave)."
McLachlan started his career at the AFL in 2000 when he was appointed as a strategy consultant by then CEO Wayne Jackson.
He spent three years in the role before being promoted to the General Manager of Commercial Operations in 2003, before being appointed to the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) in 2008.
In 2012, McLachlan was then appointed as Deputy CEO, and played a key role in delivering two new stadiums for expansion clubs, Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants, while also establishing the AFL media department and negotiating a media broadcast deal.
2013 saw McLachlan oversee two major scandals within the competition, supervising the investigations into the Melbourne Football Club tanking scandal and the Essendon Football Club supplements controversy.
"I was clear I wouldn't feel comfortable until everything was in order. I just feel-good leaving at the end of this year... it's the right time for me and the game."
"It's an honour and a privilege to serve this game. Best game in the world."- AFL (@AFL) April 12, 2022
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan's heartfelt moment :heart:
Watch the presser here: https://t.co/vSRI7nm3lC pic.twitter.com/feB3fD0H1G
Before he finishes in the role, McLachlan is keen to complete new men's and women's Collective Bargaining Agreements, as well as finalising new club-funding models and a fresh broadcast deal. McLachlan will also oversee a call later this year on whether 19th licence should be granted to Tasmania.
"It's an honour and privilege to serve this game, best game in the world."
At the conclusion of his tenure in the top job, McLachlan would have overseen introduction of the AFLW competition in 2017 - and fast-tracking it to be an 18-team competition by the end of 2022 - and navigating two Covid-interrupted seasons in 2020 and 2021. McLachlan was also in the chair when the AFL purchased Marvel Stadium in 2016, which significantly helped the AFL financially when the 2020 season was paused due to COVID-19.