Top Roo quits for son's sake
North Melbourne head of football Donald McDonald, centre, (pictured with son Luke and daughter Sally) is quitting the club to clear the way for Luke's arrival as a player.
North Melbourne's head of football Donald McDonald will quit the football department at the end of the year to clear the path for his son Luke's arrival at the club as a father-son selected player.
McDonald wanted to remove any perception of bias towards his son and to eliminate any potential compromise he would have felt as effectively being his son's boss.
''At the end of the day I just want to be a father and as a parent do the right thing by my son … and this sort of alleviates any talk that he is getting a good run because of me,'' McDonald said.
''It's a tough gig [managing the relationship of parent and football chief] but probably more for him than me. It's a tough gig for him and it's only what's best for him that I have really been thinking about.
''It's one thing to get drafted, it's another thing to make it as a player and it's a bloody lot of work and you don't need other complications.''
McDonald will transition into a new commercial role this year before formally transferring into a full-time position in commercial operations next year.
The club has already committed to Luke as a father-son selection at this year's national draft and he has agreed. He is already training a day a week at the club and was given AFL permission to travel to Utah with the Roos for a high-altitude camp.
''The choice was for me to walk away from North and go to a footy job somewhere else or stay at North and keep working on what we have built up over seven years. It's probably the next phase I was ready for in my career,'' McDonald said.
North Melbourne chief executive Carl Dilena said the club had been happy for McDonald to stay as football manager but it was McDonald who came to them to discuss the change.
''With Luke coming in Donald has always said he does not want to be in a compromised position and we understand that,'' Dilena said.
He said McDonald's commercial role would involve managing how to better merge football into the club's commercial business and ''leverage football through our coteries and member and fan engagement''.
North is likely to promote development manager Jon Haines and list manager Cameron Joyce into enhanced roles next year with both taking on extra duties this year.
''We have talked to them about a future without Donald in football and how their roles could change,'' Dilena said. ''We are looking at whether we need to replace one person or do we change our model?''
Controversy surrounded McDonald's role at North last year when former chief executive Eugene Arocca abruptly left amid claims of a boys' club at North. Arocca was known to have been disappointed that McDonald had been re-signed to a contract extension last year.
''There is no doubt there is going to be that perception of jobs for the boys or that this is a boys' club,'' McDonald said of his career move.
''But anyone who has been in the meetings with James and Mark Brayshaw and me would not be saying that and would know that it is not true. It was disappointing that stuff last year because some of the stuff … said was just wrong.
''But … I can only control the contribution I have made to the footy department and where I can contribute next.''
North is already down three people from the commercial arm, having not replaced operations director Anthony Trainor, while sponsorship manager Adam Aiello and John Murphy from marketing and fan development both quit to join Arocca at CAMS. So while the specific role for McDonald is still being developed, a new job has not been added to accommodate him.
McDonald, who also has a background in sales, said the club needed to build its commercial base so that the football department could better perform. ''We are ranked 17th or 18th in footy department spend, we don't spend 100 per cent of our TPP. If we are not going to fund our footy department to its maximum we are going to battle.''