Two senior AFL executives have resigned due to ‘inappropriate relationships’ with younger female staff

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Photo: Getty Images

The AFL has lost two senior executives, the general manager of football, Simon Lethlean, and the general manager of commercial, Richard Simkiss, who resigned due to what CEO Gillon McLachlan said were “inappropriate relationships with younger women that work in the AFL industry”.

The resignations, handed to the CEO last night, are effective immediately, with legal counsel Andrew Dillon replacing Lethlean as acting GM and growth GM Darren Birch returning to the commercial position he previously held.

“This has occurred following issues that have fully come to light over the past few days,” McLachlan said in a media statement announcing their departure.

“People have made two significant mistakes and have been held to account,” McLachlan said, adding that the incidents “caused distress and concern to a number of people”.

The issue first emerged on Monday and there was growing concern about a perceived tardiness to act by the AFL, coming off the back of the departure of diversity manager Ali Fahour, after he hit an opposition player in the head during a suburban game in Melbourne earlier this month.

Fahour was banned from playing or officiating in any future football matches and resigned from the AFL following the tribunal hearing. He was subsequently charged with intentionally and recklessly causing injury, and unlawful assault.

Speaking about losing two more executive today, McLachlan said it both a workplace and a personal matter.

“As CEO, I am dealing with the workplace issues, and can I please ask that the people involved are allowed to deal with the personal and family matters out of the public sphere. The senior leaders in our game sign up for public scrutiny, but families and others in our business do not, and I ask for their privacy to be respected,” he said.

“I think we are being clear about what we stand for as an organisation and the two men have taken accountability for their actions in a way that I think is commendable.”