EXCLUSIVE: Adrian Anderson has resigned from one of the top jobs at the AFL after nine years. In the third executive departure from Andrew Demetriou's team since the end of the season, Anderson's decision to quit follows Demetriou's strong support of his second in command Gillon McLachlan as the league's chief-executive-in-waiting.
Fairfax Media understands that Anderson, 40, the AFL's football operations boss, has been planning his departure for some months also in the knowledge that Demetriou was looking at restructuring his position in a move which would have diminished Anderson's influence within the organisation.
The AFL administrator told a media conference on Wednesday it was time for him to seek a new working challenge after a lengthy stint at the AFL.
‘‘It’s nine years of doing this role and I think it’s time for me for a new challenge. I wanted to make that decision at a time that gave Andrew (Demetriou) and the guys an opportunity to put someone in place for next season. I said to Andrew I’ll stick around to make sure for such time is needed that those arrangements are being looked after,’’ he said.
‘‘I feel I have done most of the key things I wanted to do in this role and it’s time for me now to do something different.’’
Anderson is understood to have reached his decision to leave after lengthy conversations with a number of commissioners, including chairman Mike Fitzpatrick and Demetriou himself.
He is believed to have received strong interest from other sports and is not expected to remain at the AFL beyond Christmas.
The move comes as AFL auditors continue to investigate the Melbourne Football Club for deliberately forfeiting games to gain early draft picks in 2009 and follows last Friday's heavy sanctions handed down to the Adelaide Football Club, key Crows officials and former player Kurt Tippett.
Anderson, who came to the AFL as a 31-year-old lawyer, restructured the game's on-field judiciary process, established the AFL's integrity unit and was instrumental in implementing some radical changes to the laws of the game.
The AFL administrator said he hadn’t yet decided on his next role.
Adrian Anderson. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
"I've got a few ideas but as you might appreciate in this role, there's not a great amount of time off, particular in recent months, for looking at and pursuing other opportunities,’’ Anderson said.
"It's probably wasn't appropriate either to do that, in a public role like this.
"I've devoted myself fully to what I've been doing and it's been a full on period, and I'm really proud of the efforts we've put in this year."
Anderson noted the nature of his position meant he had often been required to make unpopular decisions.
‘‘I probably didn’t appreciate that until I had been in the chair a few months, as to the level of scrutiny, but it’s also incredibly invigorating and rewarding. To have the capacity to never take for granted how much people love our great game and the importance of the decisions you have made, I know that a long the journey different people agree and don’t agree and some if them have been controversial, but it’s an immensely privileged position to be in.’’
Demetriou said he hadn't yet had time to give any thought as to who would replace Anderson at league headquarters.
With Jon Pierik, Scott Spits and AAP