The AFL Commission


  • 1983 – April-May. Mckinsey report commissioned. The report finds many issues with the leagues decision making processes. (The Pheonix Rises, pg 18)
  • 1983 – October 4. The VFL sets up Task Force Mandic. (The Phoenix Rises pg. 20)
  • 1984 – August 1. Mandic Task Force reports ““the overwhelming preponderance of evidence received by the Task Force supports its unanimous view that a new management and policy-making structure with clearly defined objectives needs to be created for the VFL and further, the Task Force has concluded that the present decision-making process with the League is fundamently (sic) deficient”.” (The Phoenix Rises, pg. 20)
  • 1984 – September 4. Meeting of club representatives organised by John Elliot and Ian Collins proposing the setting up of a new national competition, with financial conditions set, and clubs to be invited from WA and SA. SA is uninterested, but interest from WA was reported as warm. 11 VFL club presidents are reported in favour (Geelongs president wasnt present).
  • 1984 – September 12. John Elliot presents his plan to the VFL board at an emergency meeting “noting that his material had input from the Collingwood president, Ranald Macdonald, and “other club representatives” (The Phoenix Rises pg 23)
  • 1984 – November 7 – ““after long and careful consideration it was resolved “that the VFL Board endorse in principal the Task Force recommendation that the existing VFL Board of Directors structure be replaced by the appointment of a full-time Commissioner and four part-time Commissioners to conduct the administrative affairs of the League on a trial basis” (The Phoenix Rises, pg 24)
  • 1985 – October. The League adopts the Blue Report – “VFL Football: Establishing the Basis for Future Success” – which said in part – The underlying causes of the difficulties of the last few years are largely external to the game itself and to its management. In fact, if anyone were to be held “responsible” for the problems of the competition, there would be two culprits, the first being the changing activity patterns in society; the second being the inevitable consequences of change from a near-amateur to a near-professional competition … The current focus on the game itself (violence, evenness, facilities, prices) or its management (club and VFL competence) are distractions from much more fundamental problems which need to be addressed” (The Phoenix Rises pg. 46)

Formation of the Independent Commission

December 4, 1985 is one of the most significant dates in the history of football because it forever changed the way football is administered. On that date the VFL Board of Directors voted to appoint a commission with specific powers to run the competition. Before that historic vote, the competition had been run by a board of directors consisting of a representative from each club.

The vote by the board of directors referred all powers and responsibilities to the Commission to run the competition with the following exceptions where the clubs retained the power:

  • to admit any club, or expel or suspend any club
  • to amalgamate or join any other league
  • to take over the administration of any additional football club
  • to approve the move of clubs out of Victoria
  • to provide any financial assistance to any club (other than by payments of advances of dividends) or to guarantee the obligations of any club.
  • except as expressly authorised in any budget approved by the Board of Directors, to purchase or dispose any capital asset with a cost of more than $100,000.
  • except as expressly authorised in any budget approved by the Board of Directors, to borrow any money otherwise than for the ordinary purposes of the league or give any security for any such borrowing.
  • to undertake any major capital works (including major works in relation to existing assets of the league) involving a total expenditure of more than $100,000
  • to exercise any of the powers of the League in owning any television or radio station.
  • to appoint representatives of the league on the National Football Championships Pty Ltd
  • to amend any laws of the game.

That structure continued until August 11 1992, when the AFL Board of Directors accepted a recommendation from the AFL Commission to conduct an independent review of the AFL administrative structure. Mr David Crawford, a senior partner of KPMG was subsequently appointed to conduct the review.

The 1993 Crawford Report

On August 11th 1992, the AFL Board of Directors adopted a recommendation from the AFL Commission to conduct an independent review of the AFL administrative structure examining specifically:

  • the respective roles and responsibilities of the Commission, Board of Directors and management of the AFL.
  • the structure of the Commission, Board of Directors and management of the AFL
  • the relationship between the Commission, Board of Directors, management of the AFL and the clubs.

Mr. David Crawford, a senior partner in the firm KPMG Peat Marwick, was subsequently appointed to conduct the review.
On March 1, 1993 Mr. Crawford presented his report to the AFL Board of Directors and the AFL Commission. The Key Recommendations in Mr Crawfords report were as follows:

Recommendations of the Commission

  • The Commission should be retained.
  • The clubs should be given the right to appoint part-time Commissioners who would be appointed for 3 years at the annual general meeting of the AFL. While the clubs and Commission may nominate people to become part-time commissioners for election at the General Meeting, only the representative of a club may vote in the event of an election.
  • The Commission be restructured to provide for up to 8 commissioners to be appointed, including at least two Executive Commissioners. There should always be a minimum ratio of part time commissioners to executive commissioners of 2:1.
  • There should be a Chairman appointed by the commissioners from amongst their number who should not be the Chief Executive Officer. The Primary role of the Chairman would include:
    • Chairing meetings of the commission – if necessary he would have a casting vote
    • Chairing meetings between the commission and the clubs
    • Being a sounding board for the Chief Executive Officier
  • The Chief Executive Officer appointed by the commission would be a commissioner as a matter of right while retaining his position as CEO and would therefore not be subject to re-election as a commissioner. He would be a voting member of the AFL Commission. The role would include being
    • responsible for the operating performance of the AFL.
    • responsible for the implementation of policy as decided by the Commission.
    • the public face of the Commission.
  • Executive Commissioners, other than the CEO shall be appointed commissioners by the Commission but shall not be voting members of the Commission.

Recommendation: Powers of the Commission

With the exception of 1) the appoint of Commissioners at Annual General Meetings and 2) the implementation of a Commission decision to admit, expel, relocate or merge a club without clubs being consulted;
The Commission be granted the power and authority to take all decision relating to all aspects of the AFL.
Other recommendations included

  • Holding quarterly information meetings between the Commission and representatives of the clubs
  • continuing the monthly meetings between the Commission and club general managers.

Unanimous Approval

On July 19, 1993, the Board of Directors unanimously approved new Memorandum and Articles of Association which reflected the recommendations of the Crawford Report.
The Date was effectively the last meeting of the Board of Directors as the Crawford Report recommended that all powers and responsibilities to run the competition be referred to the AFL Commission.

Club Powers

The Clubs however retain specific powers in relation to the admission, relocation and merging of clubs.

  • Any decision by the commission to admit or relocate a club or approve the merger of clubs can be reversed by the clubs at a duly constituted meeting of clubs called within 14 days of receiving formal notice of a Commission decision to admit, relocate or approve a merger of clubs.
  • A two thirds majority is required to overturn any such decision by the commission. Three clubs may requisition a meeting of clubs to reverse a decision by the Commission to admit or relocate or approve a merge of clubs. Clubs cannot be merged unless the clubs who are party to the merger first agree.
  • Clubs also have a reserve power on the possible expulsion of a club from the competition. Any decision by the Commission to expel a club must be ratified at a general meeting of clubs by a simple majority.

While the AFL Commission was given wider powers to run the game when the recommendations of the Crawford Report were adopted, Clubs retained the right to appoint the Commission.

Composition of the Board

  • The Minimum number of Commissioners is six
  • The Maximum number of Commissioners is nine
  • No more than a third of Commissioners can be executive Commissioners, including the CEO