Here it is:
End of the line for Gillon McLachlan?
Victorian Editor Melbourne @fergusonjw
It often takes time for the true damage of political earthquakes to become clear.
Gillon McLachlan, the AFL’s boss, is about to learn this crack by crack, tremor by tremor.
Until he lost three executives in a hurry, McLachlan had been seen to have done a very good job of repairing the confrontationalist legacy of predecessor Andrew Demetriou.
McLachlan has repositioned the organisation to become less combative, less reactionary and broaden it in a way that few could ever have imagined.
The indigenous agenda is not his but the women’s transformation is.
If it’s a bad look, it’s damaging
It is an incredible achievement when seen in the context of the 1960s, when boys (not girls) were handed their first football, quite probably brown, plastic and straight into the bassinet.
Yet despite having cleverly positioned the AFL, with a warm and understated manner, there is a real risk that the aftershocks of the three forced resignations will bring McLachlan down.
The initial response to the sex scandals and on field indiscretions of senior AFL staff was that McLachlan had responded to the crises firmly and with an eye to the future.
On the sex scandals front, that he had moved to protect the reputation of the women’s game.
The problem is that McLachlan, in France on a week’s holiday, has left behind as many questions as he has answered, meaning this issue will bleed. Or at least if anyone is interested in proper accountability, not just push and shove criticism that disappears with the next torn hamstring.
The football industry is reluctant to eat its own and this was fully evident in the immediate aftermath of the sex scandal resignations.
But ever so slowly, people are starting to question exactly what was behind the forced resignations and whether or not there is a need for an even broader clean-up of the organisation.
Further, now that McLachlan has gone into the business of moralising, what else is there to be uncovered?
This is the dangerous trap that has been set for the organisation.
It was widely reported — including by The Weekend Australian — that the AFL Commission was unanimous in its support for the forced resignations of football general manager Simon Lethlean and commercial general manager Richard Simkiss.
Yet, The Australian has also been told that there was some initial concern expressed about axing Lethlean and Simkiss.
One, maybe even two, of the commissioners were of the view that forced resignations for office romances was a step too far.
Indeed, they might have had a point.
If we are basing our assessments purely on what is public, it is hard to know.
The question Today in Victoria wants to know is whether there were any other factors that fed into the decision to dump two of the most senior sports administrators in the land.
McLachlan has not answered this definitively. It’s time he did.
It’s also incumbent on him and the AFL to declare how much the three disgraced executives — remember silly, violent old Ali Fahour? — were paid out.
Sure, there are privacy considerations.
But these are outweighed by the fact that McLachlan was very close to at least two of those forced to resign.
How much did this nonsense cost the football industry and what will have to be cut from the budget to pay for it?
The Weekend Australian’s Patrick Smith wrote a revealing column on Saturday, where he alluded to one of the women involved in the affairs suffering emotionally, being on leave. She was stressed, he wrote.
Smith also noted that both relationships had become common knowledge in the AFL.
Common knowledge but perhaps a mystery for some time to members of the AFL Commission.
The commission is a collective of mostly very smart and intuitive people.
They will know that on the whole McLachlan has been an excellent CEO.
They will also know that more controversy and deeper questioning about the sex scandals would expose the commission and, perhaps more importantly, the game to ridicule.
The politics of this would be bad for McLachlan.
This is no doubt why he was so shattered last Friday.
Careers — and therefore family — sometimes matter more.