AFL Commission
SportAustralian rules football
JurisdictionAFL, controlled entities and affiliates.
HeadquartersAFL House, 140 Harbour Esplanade, Melbourne Docklands
ChairmanRichard Goyder
ReplacedAustralian National Football Council

The AFL Commission is the official governing body of the Australian Football League Limited (AFL), its subsidiaries and controlled entities. Richard Goyder has been chairman since 4 April 2017, replacing Mike Fitzpatrick.

It was formed in 1985 as the VFL Commission, and gained its current name in 1990 (in conjunction with the renaming of the VFL competition to the Australian Football League).

Its constitution self-proclaims the commission to be the "keeper of the code" responsible for the sport of Australian football. As part of its role, the Commission is responsible for the Laws of Australian rules football It is also responsible for worldwide player acknowledgement through the Australian Football Hall of Fame and All-Australian team. It maintains a professional talent pathway for players through the AFL Draft, AFL Draft Combine, AFL Academy and academies through its member clubs and affiliated bodies, Underage Men's and Underage women's championships, the Australian Football (AFL) International Cup and through its worldwide affiliates, numerous regional representative tournaments and Australia's involvement in the International Rules Series. It was formerly responsible for senior State of Origin competition from 1991 until its cessation in 1999.[1]

Scope of Governance

The AFL Commission is responsible for the administration of the AFL competitions and its constitution self-proclaims the commission to be the "keeper of the code" responsible for the sport of Australian football. The Commission gained national control of the sport when it took over the role of the Australian National Football Council in 1993. It gained control of the game internationally in 2003 when it replaced the International Australian Football Council. The Commission also assumed control of Women's Australian rules football in 2010, taking over the role of Women's Football Australia. Leagues affiliated with or owned by the AFL Commission have names beginning with AFL and incorporate the AFL logo. The Commission now owns the governing body for Australia's most populous eastern region through the AFL NSW/ACT and has strong affiliations with all other states. The AFL also promotes and brands the sport under its own name instead of the official name of Australian Football, especially in developing areas where the sport is not well known and the AFL has a major stake in the local governing bodies.

The ten commissioners are elected by the 18 AFL clubs, with each of the 18 clubs entitled to make nominations but other Australian Football leagues, associations and clubs not having any control or representation.

The AFL Commission's primary role is to oversee the profitability of its competitions, its primary competitions being the AFL and AFL Women's. As such it has a direct stake in many of its member clubs. It approves the administration of new licenses and has been involved in the rapid expansion of the national competition since 1987 and was instrumental in the merger that created the Brisbane Lions. The Commission also fully owns the Greater Western Sydney Giants. Other clubs to have an AFL Commission appointed board include the Sydney Swans, Gold Coast Suns, Adelaide Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club. The Commission operates a Competitive Balance Fund which redistributes profits to the clubs most in need to help ensure that all of its member clubs are financially sustainable in the long-term.[2]

Financially, the Commission is highly co-dependent on the success of the AFL and the majority of its funding comes from AFL competiton broadcasting rights. The 2017–2022 these rights earned more than $2.5 billion, the most lucrative in Australian sporting history. The Commission distributes some of the profit from these rights into development of the game. However the majority is invested in ensuring that the AFL continues to sustain its future revenues, such as protecting the primacy of the competition, growing its broadcast audience and talent pathways and professionalism to attract the best available players (from junior development programs and high performance athletes from around the world).

As part of its role, the Commission is responsible for the Australian Football Hall of Fame, the AFL men's underage championships and AFL women's underage championships. It was formerly responsible for senior State of Origin competition from 1991 until it ended in 1999.[3]

Role in national and international game development

The Commission was formed to set policy and has directed the VFL/AFL (known then as the VFL) as the game's most professional league since December 1985.

In 1993, the AFL Commission assumed control of the AFL from the AFL Board of Directors (in effect, the 15 AFL clubs at that time). Subsequently, the Board of Directors voted itself out of existence, and a new Memorandum and Articles of Association were adopted for the AFL. It also assumed national governance of the sport (see Principle 2 below) when it absorbed the ANFC.

This was a significant change of power, as between 1985 and 1993, the Commission had required explicit approval by a 75% vote of the League (the teams) for major items such as further expansion, mergers, relocations, and major capital works.

The AFL also created an International Policy in 2005, and absorbed the International Australian Football Council, thus gaining control of the sport worldwide.

In its role as national and international governing body, the AFL Commission also controls and delegates development funding for Australian state and international bodies and leagues. As most of this funding is sourced the revenue and activities associated with the AFL competition, much of the funding is directed to the competition's developing markets. Semi-professional state competitions are generally self-sufficient, and receive a much lower percentage of the AFL's funding. The Commission has established a pathway that features junior Academies and scholarships from representational level up to its member clubs. The highest level is the AFL Academy, with academies for each state being managed by their respective AFL clubs and affiliated governing bodies.

Between 2010 and 2021, the AFL spent between $6–38 million per annum (under 5% of total revenue) on game development grants globally.

Management of Official Player Recognition for the Sport

Organisation structure and members

The AFL Commission has a simple structure. There are formal corporate titles for members which currently consists of a chairman whose role is to oversee meetings and a Chief executive officer who typically also oversees the operations of the Australian Football League.

Commissioners are elected by the 18 AFL clubs, who each are entitled to make nominations. Should an election be necessary, then the membership is decided by a vote of the AFL clubs. Under the current constitution, member clubs have the power to veto commission decisions with a two thirds vote.

Current Membership

Current membership of the Commission is:

Name Current Role Appointed
Richard Goyder Chairman 2017
Gillon McLachlan Chief Executive Officer 2014
Paul Bassat Commissioner 2011
Kim Williams Commissioner 2014
Major General Simone Wilkie Commissioner 2015
Jason Ball Commissioner 2015
Andrew Newbold Commissioner 2016
Gabrielle Trainor Commissioner 2016
Robin Bishop Commissioner 2017
Professor Helen Milroy Commissioner 2018

All-time membership

Chief Executive Officers


Executive Commissioners


Life Members

Club and Competition Intervention

The AFL Commission has also become involved in Australian Football League matters on occasion, both on and off-field. Sometimes these interventions have been in controversial circumstances.

On the field

Off the field

The commission has become involved when players or a club bring the game into disrepute, including:


The AFL Commission has a role in undertaking assessments of expansion clubs and awarding new licences including:

The Commission owns a stake in the Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney clubs.

Member Club Viability

The AFL Commission manages a special fund called the Competitive Balance Fund (CBF) since 2004 as a grant of up to $5 million per club to ensure that member clubs remain financially viable.

The system was later changed to the Annual Special Distribution (ASD) of $6.3 million shared among all clubs,[31] as well as allowing for grants and special concessions, such as payments, to ensure that the AFL member clubs remain viable in the short term. In 2006, the Commission approved a $2.1 million special financial assistance package for Carlton.

In response to clubs increasingly relying on and applying for special funding, in 2008, the Commission recommended removing the fund altogether,[31] but after considerable club protests led by three struggling clubs, the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne and North Melbourne, CEO Andrew Demetriou announced that the ASD would remain.

In early 2009, it increased Melbourne's assistance from $250,000 to $1 million and made a $1 million grant to Port Adelaide.[32]


  1. ^ "Salmon and Brans ruled out". The Canberra Times. Vol. 65, no. 20, 487. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 16 May 1991. p. 28. Retrieved 20 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ The AFL, NRL, A-league and Privatisation
  3. ^ "Salmon and Brans ruled out". The Canberra Times. Vol. 65, no. 20, 487. Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 16 May 1991. p. 28. Retrieved 20 June 2022 – via National Library of Australia.
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  16. ^ "Fevola joins Lions' pride". ABC Sport. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
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  21. ^ "Demons tanked: McLean". The Age. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
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  26. ^ Dampney, James (13 May 2014). "Toby Greene charged over night club incident". AFL Official Website.
  27. ^ Niall, Jake (14 November 2016). "Lachie Whitfield agrees to six-month ban for illicit drug code breach, Graeme Allan, Craig Lambert to be banned for one year". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  28. ^ Laughton, Max (22 December 2016). "GWS Giants lose draft points, fined by AFL Commission after being found guilty over Lachie Whitfield saga". Fox Sports (Australia). News Corp Australia. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  29. ^ "Young Swan suspended for rest of season for COVID breach". 15 August 2020. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  30. ^ Zita, David; Raphael, Angie (2 December 2020). "Sacked Swan Elijah Taylor sentenced as details of brutal treatment revealed". Fox Sports Australia. Retrieved 18 March 2021.
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  32. ^ "The Advertiser | Latest Adelaide and South Australia News | the Advertiser".