Comedians will have a field day with Gillon McLachlan’s CV, but the AFL was never going to let a rich fop in a mustard jacket take over from Andrew Demetriou as chief executive.
SA farming old money, a St Peter’s College education and all the best polo connections will only take you so far.
The AFL’s explosion of growth, influence and money over the last two decades has seen to that.
It’s surely the most powerful single role in Australian sport.
McLachlan is now confirmed in the job that effectively became his when he knocked back the NRL two years ago.
The question is not whether he’s capable. As Eddie McGuire says, McLachlan hits the ground running.
McLachlan has been at the AFL since 2000.
He was a key figure in the AFL’s current – and extraordinarily lucrative – broadcast rights deal.
Whatever the verdict on his performance, he was at the coalface of the league’s investigations into Melbourne and Essendon.
To use his own words, McLachlan admitted on Wednesday that he had lost skin over the Essendon crisis.
Demetriou doesn’t have to walk him through all the pitfalls of the head office.
No, the question is whether McLachlan is too big to fail.
It’s a bit like becoming a senior AFL coach – no-one knows for sure about his capabilities until he’s in the main chair, running the show.
McLachlan was very line-and-length at Wednesday’s media conference, offering few specifics on the big issues.
Yes, he and AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick have promised that the league will listen to fans over growing anger about the cost of going to the footy.
Yes, McLachlan has pledged to put women in key AFL positions.
But as he drew a line between himself and Demetriou, the son of a fish-and-chip owner from Cyprus, McLachlan also said it will be a process of evolution, not revolution.
McLachlan also promised that he’s ditched the notorious mustard jacket that he wore to the Warrnambool races two years ago.
We do know McLachlan will be more consultative than Demetriou and does not have such a notorious temper.
But we are also advised not to mistake the quieter demeanour for a lack of strength.
Now we find out exactly what he brings to the job.