AFL RESIGNATIONS MELBOURNE
Two senior executives - including Gillon McLachlan's right-hand man - have left the AFL after the revelation of affairs with junior employees in the sport.
The sport's governing body was thrown into disarray on Friday after the shock resignations of football manager Simon Lethlean and commercial boss Richard Simkiss.
Both engaged in "inappropriate relationships with younger women that work in the AFL industry" according to McLachlan, declining to expand further on the incidents.
Lethlean had been in the role - the position filled by McLachlan and Andrew Demetriou before becoming chief executive - since March.
He released a statement saying his actions were wrong, and he would try to regain the trust and love of his family.
"I failed my wife, my family, my friends, my organisation and football by making the decision I have," he said.
"I have hurt the people who are most important in my life and ... I am deeply sorry for all the hurt and embarrassment I have caused," he said.
McLachlan denied previous knowledge of the relationships, saying he became aware of the "pertinent facts" around Lethlean and Simkiss' actions this week.
McLachlan declined to answer whether he had asked for their resignations.
"These two men own the decision to resign today. But it is a decision that I think is the right one," he said.
McLachlan has committed to improving gender equality as a 'Male Champion of Change', saying the AFL's actions showed the sport's seriousness on women's issues.
"The journey we're on for a more equal and respectful workplace must be more than just words. It must be backed up with action and with change," he said.
"We feel that we've addressed the issues strongly today. And we'll continue to make change because it's a journey and we're not where we want to be yet."
The departures leave a huge hole at the executive level of the powerhouse sport, following last week's resignation of diversity manager Ali Fahour for an alleged unlawful assault at a suburban football match.
Lethlean, a popular figure within the league, joined the AFL in 2004, while Simkiss had also tallied more than a decade at headquarters.
The pair have been replaced by two internal candidates in an acting capacity.
Darren Birch will expand his own commercial role to cover Simkiss' responsibilities and general counsel Andrew Dillon will add the wide-ranging football portfolio to his workload.
McLachlan said he would look to bring in someone from outside the AFL's head office to fill Lethlean's role on a full-time basis.
McLachlan said support should be directed towards the families of the departed executives.
"Senior leaders in our game sign up for the public scrutiny. Families and others do not. I ask their privacy be respected," he said.