[close]

Guessing game starts on new AFL manager

Simon Lethlean's abrupt departure creates a problem that the AFL have to fix promptly.

Guessing game starts on new AFL manager

Simon Lethlean's abrupt departure creates a problem that the AFL have to fix promptly.

They're among the most respected current and former AFL figures - Ameet Bains, Ian Prendergast, Steve Hocking, Andrew McKay.

Even Nathan Buckley rates a mention, should he find himself in the job market later this year.


In horse racing parlance, Simon Lethlean's shock departure last week means a Cox Plate field as the AFL decides who should be the new football operations manager.

Those five men have featured in the immediate speculation about who takes over one of the most important jobs at AFL House.

The position became vacant once Lethlean sensationally quit because of an extra-marital affair with a junior AFL staffer.

The footy ops manager is often described as the AFL No.2 behind the chief executive - indeed, Andrew Demetriou held the role before becoming the boss.

While AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon has taken over the role, he is only a temporary appointment.

The league will conduct a full-blown executive search and McLachlan hopes to confirm the permanent successor later this year.

Just as McLachlan was groomed for the chief executive role, the AFL takes no risks with who runs footy operations.

After Adrian Anderson's departure, the league enticed veteran club administrator Mark Evans from Hawthorn and he proved an inspired choice.

Evans left the league earlier this year after a four-year term to take over as Gold Coast chief executive, another crucial job that reflects his standing in the game.

Lethlean was appointed from within and, like Evans, he was proving a good choice for a role that is part-administrator, part-disciplinarian, part-peace keeper and part-spokesman.

When the coaches want to vent about the rules or how the AFL is running the game, the footy ops manager generally takes the pointed phone call.

Bains is St Kilda's chief operations manager and was a candidate earlier this year to become Hawthorn chief executive.

Prendergast has headed the NRL players association since leaving the AFL equivalent, after he was overlooked for the top job there in favour of Paul Marsh.

Hocking (Geelong) and McKay (Carlton) are two of the game's top club football operations managers. Fremantle's Chris Bond is also being mentioned as a potential candidate for the AFL job.

And then there's Buckley, who is respected throughout the game.

He is out of contract at the end of this season and his future is tenuous, given this will be the fourth-straight season that the Magpies miss the finals.

AAP


AAP




Latest Stories