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Departure rocks unstable league

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Anderson ready to 'do something different'

As Adrian Anderson quits the AFL, football writer Caroline Wilson speculates on what may be the fallout from the third AFL executive to resign since season's end.

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ADRIAN Anderson's shock departure from one of the most influential roles in Australian sport comes at a critical time for the AFL and was directly linked to his boss Andrew Demetriou's controversial decision to nominate another executive colleague, Gillon McLachlan, as his successor.

Anderson has been considering his future at the game's head office for much of the season in the belief Demetriou's support for him was not quite what he had hoped and that the AFL chief was looking at splitting his role and therefore diluting his influence.

As he handled a series of dramatic football issues and was assured by chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and his commission that he had their support, Anderson concluded his future at the AFL was not as bright as Fitzpatrick had often predicted.

Adrian Anderson's departure will not help the lack of diversity at head office.

Adrian Anderson's departure will not help the lack of diversity at head office. Photo: Pat Scala

After nine years, it was time to move on from one of the game's most thankless jobs.

And yet Anderson's resignation came as a complete surprise to many of his colleagues. It comes as the AFL remains under fire for its strange leniency to the deceptive and rule-breaking Adelaide chief executive Steven Trigg. It comes as Melbourne remains under investigation for tanking - an investigation which Melbourne remains emphatic it will fight every step of the way.

It comes following the commission's rejection of his recommendation to place a cap on interchange bench rotations next season. It comes following McLachlan's strangely public but ultimately failed courtship with the NRL - a courtship which ended with McLachlan more certain than ever to replace Demetriou. This despite the commission's ongoing insistence that the AFL board of directors - and not Demetriou - will appoint the next chief executive.

And it comes as the AFL's illicit drugs policy - the policy Anderson revolutionised - is again under fire following the revelation by Collingwood chief Gary Pert that he has knowledge of amphetamine dealing among players between clubs, along with allegations of senior players not only regularly taking illegal drugs but passing them on to younger players.

Anderson is the third member of Demetriou's executive team to depart since the end of the season. His resignation follows the mysterious removal of the AFL's strategic and club services boss Andrew Catterall, a departure that has remained cloaked in secrecy and was initially portrayed as a decision by Catterall to take long-service leave.

In fact, the AFL was forced to show its brash young executive the door after Catterall's workplace behaviour made his position untenable. His treatment of staff sealed his fate despite his reputation as among the smartest operators among Demetriou's team.

The AFL's human resources chief, Christina Ogg, simultaneously ''resigned'' in October. Demetriou's regime has not been known for its promotion of women unless the role concerned is HR and despite Demetriou being at the helm for almost a decade, Ogg was the first and only woman on his executive. Now she is gone with both Ogg and the AFL dissatisfied with each other.

That Catterall's head-butting style was tolerated for as long as it was and ended badly does not reflect well upon Demetriou's leadership. That a sporting organisation that justifiably promotes itself as the best and most powerful in the land has such a lack of diversity among its executive is also a cause for concern.

The AFL is an organisation proud of - and determined to improve - its relationship with women and yet few women have truly flourished under Demetriou's leadership. Sue Clark, the one-time senior policewoman, would seem to be the exception and is in line for promotion now Anderson has created another vacancy.

Demetriou went out of his way at the start of the season to back his most senior indigenous staffer Jason Mifsud when the latter spectacularly misfired but, again, it is telling that the great indigenous game of Australian rules boasts so few influential indigenous officials; assistant coaches you can count with one hand and no executives.

Anderson's departure will not help the lack of diversity at head office. He is not the first football operations boss to be overlooked for the top job - Ian Collins and Alan Schwab were notably cast aside - but he broke the mould.

Anderson's initial uncomfortable public style and long-winded process-driven nature did not endear him to an industry used to dealing with Demetriou and Collins and their colourful language and instinctive quick thinking. Some clubs will be happy to see him go.

And yet he came into his pivotal role as an unmarried 31-year-old barrister and departs it a 40-year-old married father of three who should be considered for leading sporting roles not only within Australia but internationally.

Anderson deserves a key place in the history of the game and for all the right reasons. He revolutionised the rules with an obsessive eye towards safety and quality and radically improved the on-field judicial process.

His obsession with the game's integrity was at the forefront of Australian sport and he worked tirelessly against the tide at times - notably where gambling was concerned as the AFL's commercial agreements collided with Anderson's vigilant team and its philosophies.

To be fair, Demetriou empowered him to pick up the ball and run with it across his portfolio. To be equally fair, Demetriou backed him and demonstrated unfailing loyalty during the tough early years, shouting down those clubs who campaigned against Anderson.

His key investigator Brett Clothier could also be in line for promotion should Anderson's portfolio indeed be split and there will be a strong and justifiable push from clubs to appoint an executive from a club background to take over the football operations of the AFL.

Clearly Demetriou has some big decisions as he rebuilds his depleted executive. Anderson's long-serving football lieutenant Rod Austin also resigned in October while the meticulous accountant style of the other Anderson - long-serving finance boss Ian - continues to frustrate his colleagues.

There is no doubt McLachlan became even more acutely aware of a number of key relationship problems during his time standing in for Demetriou and even brought some issues to a head.

That Demetriou was permitted to spend one-third of the season out of the country remains a mystery when you consider the problematic Greater Western Sydney was making its AFL debut. He has certainly paid for it since his return.

Since the season ended, clubs have pushed for urgent summits on the illegal drugs crisis and the alarming struggles of a number of poorer clubs.

The league is quietly negotiating to buy Etihad Stadium for the right price.

Fitzpatrick's pronouncement six months ago that his chief executive had ''unfinished business'' now seems like an understatement. Unless Demetriou decides that he, too, has had enough.

Related Coverage

'It's time for me to do something different.' Anderson moves on from the AFL

Adrian Anderson has resigned as the AFL’s general manager of football operations after serving a nine-year term. The 40-year-old is the third executive to depart from Andrew Demetriou's team since the end of the season.

Anderson ready to 'do something different' (Thumbnail) Anderson ready to 'do something different'

As Adrian Anderson quits the AFL, football writer Caroline Wilson speculates on what may be the fallout from the third AFL executive to resign since season's end.

North dismisses speculation about Anderson

North Melbourne has dismissed reports departing AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson would join the Roos as chief executive, a role not filled on a permanent basis since the resignation of Eugene Arocca mid-season.

Time is right for Judd to step down: McLean

The winds of change sweeping through Carlton appear to be gaining even greater force, with Blues midfielder Brock McLean believing the time is right for Chris Judd to step down as captain.

Tough times at the top

For Adrian Anderson, leaving with his marbles and self-esteem intact has been no mean feat.

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HuffPost Australia

AFL 2015

Round 1
Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
RIC ($1.25)vs NTH ($4.00) 19:50ES
Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
GEE ($2.65)vs ADE ($1.50) 13:05SS
BRI ($4.50)vs WBU ($1.20) 13:45G
PTA ($1.10)vs FRE ($6.50) 15:50Adelaide Oval
HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($17.00) 16:40MCG
SYD ($1.04)vs GCF ($11.00) 19:20SCG
WCE ($1.04)vs STK ($11.00) 19:40Domain Stadium
Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
MEL ($3.20)vs GWS ($1.36) 13:10ES
COL ($1.28)vs ESS ($3.70) 15:20MCG
View All Fixtures
AFL 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D % Pts
Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
View all
 

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