The AFL is also revamping the “game analysis” unit that was instrumental in the rule changes driven by Hocking, expanding this into “game evolution.” Whereas game analysis focused more narrowly on rules and how the game is played on the field, Hocking said “game evolution” would look at structural matters such as list sizes, the nature of pre-seasons and would have a far broader look at the game, not simply on the field.
The competition manager will be the operational manager of this game evolution unit and have a role in running the AFL’s Review Centre (ARC). But the new person will not sit on the AFL’s executive.
Significantly, the AFL has promoted a woman, Julia Lawrence, to take on the coaching role previously filled by David Rath, who also led game analysis and has gone to St Kilda as a key figure in the coaching panel. Lawrence will be responsible for running the coaching courses, from levels one to four, which prepare coaches for the AFL and the lower levels of the game.
These changes are accompanied by a change in the AFL tribunal, which has been moved out of Hocking’s football department and placed under the league’s legal department and head of legal, Andrew Dillon, in what Hocking called “a separation of powers.” Hocking will retain control of the match review process and sign off on decisions by the match review officer.
While most of the revamp at the AFL is in Hocking’s football department, McLachlan is also creating a new senior executive role for the management of Marvel Stadium, which will be under direct AFL control for the first time (the AFL having full ownership of the stadium).
Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell, rated highly by the AFL hierarchy for overseeing the rebuilding of the Bombers, is the industry favourite to win the new stadium executive role, although sources said the AFL would have a thorough interview process.