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The AFL Commission is the official governing body of the Australian Football League (AFL), the elite national Australian Football competition.

The AFL Commission is responsible for the administration of the competition and its constitution proclaims it as the "keeper of the code", the body universally responsible for the sport of Australian Football. Since forming in 1985, the AFL Commission has become increasingly wealthy and powerful and has had control of the sport in Australia since 1993 and internationally since 2005.

There are eight members that comprise the AFL Commission who are elected by the 16 AFL clubs, with each club entitled to make nominations.

National and International Game Development

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

In 1993 the AFL Commission assumed national governance of the sport (see Principle 2 below) following the earlier disbanding of the Australian National Football Council. At the same time, control of the AFL passed from the AFL Board of Directors (effectively the 16 AFL clubs) to the Commission[297220], with the abolition of the Board of Directors and adoption of new Memorandum and Articles of Association for the AFL. This was a significant change of power as previously the Commission required explicit approval by the League (teams) for major items, such as further Expansion, Mergers, Relocations, Major Capital Works and similar items. The AFL also created an International Policy in 2005 in an attempt to govern 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 internatonal 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.

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 16 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 only with over 75% of votes.

Current Membership

Current membership of the Commission is:
Name Current Role Appointed
Mike Fitzpatrick Chairman 2007
Andrew Demetriou Chief Executive Officer 2003
Colin Carter OAM Non Executive 1993
Bill Kelty Non Executive 1998
Chris Langford Non Executive Commissioner 1999
Graeme John AO Non Executive 2000
Bob Hammond AM Non Executive 2001
Linda Dessau Non Executive 2007
Sam Mostyn Non Executive 2005
Christopher Lynch Non Executive 2008

All-time Membership

Chief Executive Officers


Executive Commissioners


Life Members

  • Colin Carter (2009)
  • Graeme Samuel (1995)

Club and Competition Intervention

The AFL Commission has also become involved in Australian Football League matters on occasion that the league causes on-field or off-field, sometimes in controversial circumstances.

On the field

Off the field

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


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

Member Club Viability

The AFL Commission manages a special fund called the Competitive Balance Fund (CBF) since 2004 as a grant of up to AUD$5 million per club to ensure that member clubs remain financially viable. The system was later changed to the Annual Special Distribution (ASD) of AUD$6.3 million shared among all clubs as well as allowing for grants and special concessions, such as payments to ensure that AFL member clubs remain viable in the short term including.

In 2006, the Commission approved a $2.1 million special financial assistance package for the Carlton Football Club. Later the same year it threatened to withdraw North Melbourne's funding if it did not move to the Gold Coast.

In response to clubs increasingly relying on and applying for special funding in 2008, the Commission recommended removing the fund altogether. However after considerable club protests led by struggling clubs Western Bulldogs, Melbourne Football Club and North Melbourne, CEO Andrew Demetriou announced that the ASD would remain. In early 2009 it increased the Melbourne Football Club's assistance from $250,000 to AUD$1 million and later made a AUD$1 million grant to the Port Adelaide Football Club

State League Takeover Attempts

The AFL Commission has continually pushed for the game to be called "AFL" at all levels. The aim was to use the strong brand of the professional league as well as to promote it further. It was argued that the "word" AFL was easier to remember and does not carry connotations of "Australian". This was first promoted heavily in its developing markets, in leagues and governing bodies which the AFL had bought into, and increasingly adopted by the media. As the new national governing body, the AFL began to enforce the brand on any newly affiliated leagues. The move has attracted significant criticism and controversy, particularly from amateur leagues and bodies in Australia, which continue to use the formal name. The AFL successfully negotiated a name change for Football Victoria to AFL Victoria in 2007 and continues to push for a full takeover of the league. It also pushed for the SANFL and WAFL to become AFL South Australia and AFL Western Australia respectively. However the SANFL and WAFL continue to resist an AFL takeover at board level.


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