AFL Execs Resign After Admitting To Affairs With Younger Female Staffers
Australian Football League CEO Gillon McLachlan "forced the resignations" of two of his most senior execs after they admitted to having affairs with younger female employees, "undermining the football code's attempt to set the standard for community and ethical leadership," according to Ferguson, Koob & Brown of THE AUSTRALIAN. The AFL Commission backed McLachlan's decision to "purge two of his senior lieutenants after an internal investigation found inappropriate relationships" involving the league's head of commercial operations, its head of football operations and the two women. McLachlan dumped AFL Game Development Manager Simon Lethlean, who was "instrumental in launching the women's league," and Commercial GM Richard Simkiss, "two of the most powerful people in football, and his human resources department." He was "unaware of any formal complaints by the two women affected by the scandal." It was reported on Friday that a third AFL exec was "facing accusations of having had an inappropriate relationship with an employee." Lethlean had a relationship with a woman identified as former senior AFL Auskick official Maddi Blomberg. AFL lawyer Ali Gronow had been in a relationship with Simkiss (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/15). In Melbourne, Wilson & Pierik reported Lethlean said that the relationship should not have happened. Lethlean: "My resignation follows a wrong decision I made to have an inappropriate relationship with a female employee of the AFL. It is an action for which I am truly sorry for the hurt I have caused. The relationship should never have happened. As a husband and a leader of this organization, it is up to me to set the example. What I did was wrong." Simkiss also apologized, admitting "our industry is on a journey of change, and I can't let my actions halt or damage that journey." The Lethlean and Simkiss "controversy" comes as the AFL has "still yet to finalise an upgraded respect and responsibility policy," having engaged consultancy Rapid Context to provide a report. The league also has Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, "involved in the process" (THE AGE, 7/14).
TOP 10: Also in Melbourne, Stephen Drill reported some men in the AFL office created a "Top 10" list of female employees "they wanted to sleep with." A woman was reportedly "told of her ranking on the wish list of males at AFL House." She was told, "You're number five on the list." McLachlan said that he was confident the two execs who quit over affairs "would find jobs in football." McLachlan: "I know the industry is forgiving. They are high-quality people and unbelievable executives" (HERALD SUN, 7/15). In Sydney, Urban & Koob reported the AFL was "aware of allegations that employees had compiled a list of the sexiest women" working within the organization but declined to confirm "whether it investigated the matter." A spokesperson confirmed "the AFL was aware of this allegation before today." The spokesperson declined to comment on "whether the claim had been investigated, whether any breaches of company policy had occurred or whether disciplinary action resulted." Instead, he pointed to an interview McLachlan gave to ABC Radio on Saturday, in which he said that there were "no other issues that warranted investigation." McLachlan added, "I have not one thing further that concerns me" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 7/17).