It's time ... Jeff Kennett, right, says there is a need for cultural change at the top of the AFL.
Former Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett says the AFL Commission must fix a "culture problem" at the league's headquarters, part of which should include a searching review of Andrew Demetriou's role as chief executive.
Kennett said the public was quickly losing faith in the game's administrators as a result of its mishandling of issues relating to illicit drugs, tanking and salary cap rorting during the off-season.
"The culture is wrong - it needs improving," he said on Channel Nine's Footy Classified on Thursday night.
"It has become, I think, a culture defence: protecting the players, protecting the name of the code.
"And at times it is a culture of intimidation.
"I think the commission should seriously consider whether it is time, after 10 years, and because there has been acts occurring on his [Demetriou's] watch, that they should be addressing the culture," he said.
"I think the public are entitled to know that their code is in the best of hands and it is properly and strongly and proudly run."
Asked directly whether he was calling for Demetriou to step down or be removed by the commission, Kennett reiterated: "I'm saying that they ought to consider addressing the culture," he said.
"Andrew has been overseeing the culture for 10 years.
"Gill [second-in-charge Gillon McLachlan] as his deputy has been there for a lot of that time.
"We are discussing issues now that are pulling the game apart."
Stories to make headlines recently about AFL players self-reporting illicit drug use to avoid a "strike" penalty, and of players being repeatedly forced to miss matches because of serious breaches of the league's illicit drug policy – without the public's knowledge – had damaged the AFL brand, Kennett said.
At the heart of Kennett's frustration has been the controversial sanctions delivered by the AFL from the Melbourne tanking saga, the Adelaide-Kurt Tippett salary cap scandal and the sacking of former Adelaide recruiter Matt Rendell, all of which he described as examples of bad governance.
"These decisions that have been handed down are all contradictions of each other. There is now consistency there," he said.
"Because they have protected some, because they have vilified others like Matt Rendell, but they've let [Adelaide chief executive] Steven Trigg off, to a certain extent, no one has any confidence in the system any more."
In relation to Demetriou, Kennett made the point that chief executives at BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto had recently either stepped down or been sacked after six years in the top job.
It is Kennett's belief that no one should stay in a top leadership position in any organisation for more than "six to eight years" except in the cases of "the most extraordinary of individuals".
Kennett served as Hawthorn president for exactly six years from 2006 to 2011.
"Andrew has done a good job, but we now have a culture existing in the AFL that I think should have the AFL Commission thinking whether it's time to address the leadership of the AFL," the former Victorian Premier said.
"I have always said publicly that I get on very well with Andrew Demetriou.
"Eighty per cent of what they've done, they've done well.
"The other 20 per cent, less well. I think that halo has slipped, that 80 per cent has slipped dramatically over the last few weeks."
Demetriou has already stated he will look to step down before the next TV rights deal is negotiated, with the current agreement set to expire in 2016.
Kennett said the AFL should cast its search far and wide for a replacement when the time comes, conceding: "You might have to bring someone in from outside to address the culture."