North Melbourne president James Brayshaw has urged the AFL to anoint Gillon McLachlan as Andrew Demetriou's successor straight away, and scrap its formal process to find a new chief executive.
Brayshaw said McLachlan had "great respect" in club land and could not see the point in the AFL protecting him from poaching attempts from the NRL if it was not going to give McLachlan the top job now that Demetriou has revealed he will step down at the end of 2014.
"I wonder why you'd spend seven years grooming someone, and spend a lot of time keeping him away from the NRL, and not give him the job when it comes up," Brayshaw said SEN on Tuesday morning.
Gillon McLachlan at the press conference about Melbourne's tanking, February 2013. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
"When you've got such a high-quality candidate sitting there, why would you bother with any of that. Just appoint him." The AFL has hired an executive recruitment firm to help the commission identify the next chief executive, and international candidates and people from outside football could be considered for the position that earned Demetriou $1.88 million in 2012.
McLachlan is the outstanding internal candidate and favourite to take the job. As well as Brayshaw, he received the backing of Collingwood president Eddie McGuire, Western Bulldogs counterpart Peter Gordon and others.
"I think he's outstanding, Gil," Brayshaw said.
"He's got an enormous amount to offer the organisation – he understands it back to front – and he's got great respect at club land, certainly at our footy club," he said.
"I'm not really sure why you'd go through a process when you don't have to. I know we wouldn't at North Melbourne, if and when you've got the right person to take over any role."
Brayshaw's comments came the morning after Essendon chairman Paul Little used his speech at the Bombers' season launch to offer a surprising tribute to the outgoing Demetriou, with whom he was in conflict with during the supplements scandal last year.
"It's been a difficult relationship the club, myself and the board have had with Andrew, but in many ways he has turned the corner," Little told players and supporters at the event on Monday night.
"About six months ago we met, and I needed to have his support to rebuild the Essendon footy club, I asked for his support, and in fairness to Andrew, he has given us that support ever since," he said.
"So I know there will be some cynicism in the room tonight, but I've got to tell you that more recently Andrew has been a big help and we look forward to finding out who his replacement will be."
Demetriou spoke on 3AW on Tuesday morning to discuss his future. He said
he was mulling over a number of prospective career paths.
"I've got a couple of things that I'm looking at. I've got to work. I've got four children at school. I want to be waving goodbye to the children in the morning, not them waving goodbye to me," he said.
Asked when he was most recently approached about a job, Demetriou replied: "Yesterday, after my announcement."
He would not elaborate on what that offer was
, but said he did not really want to remain in sports administration, reiterating his interest in joining the board at James Packer's Crown Entertainment.
"I've been asked informally, but it's something I'd consider if I was asked officially," he said.
He also spoke of his unfinished business concerning equalisation and again defended the league's handling of the drugs drama under his watch.
"I don't agree that the ASADA investigation, the joint investigation, the self-reporting of Essendon, the efforts of the AFL to stop an abhorrent regime of injecting young men with god-knows-what substances, was handled badly," Demetriou said.
"Do you know what the other option was? Not to do anything and let it keep going.
"What I would agree with is that everyone's got fatigue and it needs to be brought to an end.
"It's with ASADA now, it's not with the AFL."
Asked if ASADA had handled it efficiently, Demetriou said: "I think everyone would've preferred if it had been done quicker."