Growing misgivings across the game's heartland regarding the lack of Victorian voices at football's board table have strengthened the push to place Andrew Newbold onto the AFL Commission.
Newbold, who looks certain to replace the departing Chris Langford, comes as the first of two expected changes to the commission in 2016, with the AFL's first woman board member Sam Mostyn expected to step down after 11 years.
With the AFL virtually committed to replacing Mostyn with another woman, the mooted push for the game's first Indigenous commissioner is expected to be delayed for at least another year.
The push for an Aboriginal commissioner comes as the game continues to struggle to attract Indigenous Australians to senior positions at head office or at clubs and also to retain Indigenous players in the AFL industry.
Last year the commission struggled with the sensitive issues surrounding the spectator treatment from certain clubs to Adam Goodes.
Michael Long, the only senior Indigenous figure in the game to publicly lobby for a commission place, was never contacted by the commission recruiters.
As reported by Fairfax Media, the recently retiring Hawthorn chairman Newbold was the subject of a concerted recruitment drive after stepping down earlier than expected.
Gillon McLachlan's commissioned report into the game at every level further identified significant problems facing grassroots football in Victoria.
With the recent commission departures of Linda Dessau and Bill Kelty – both Victorians – only chairman Mike Fitzpatrick, Paul Bassat and Langford, who recently relocated from Sydney, are Melbourne-based.
Club presidents Peggy O'Neal and David Koch joined senior commissioners on the advisory board in the search for new faces for the AFL's top table.
Chairman Fitzpatrick is expected to step down over the next 18 months and West Australian Richard Goyder, the managing director of Wesfarmers, the current favourite to succeed him.