The Courier-Mail

Con­lon puts num­bers on board, then steps down

- AN­DREW HAMIL­TON

AFLQ chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Con­lan has left his post af­ter over­see­ing a record­break­ing year for the code.

Con­lan (right) drove sig­nif­i­cant growth in par­tic­i­pa­tion dur­ing his 3½-year reign, re­struc­tured football oper­a­tions and de­liv­ered a newlook NEAFL com­pe­ti­tion.

He was also a driv­ing force be­hind the rise of Queens­land’s elite un­der-aged pro­grams, with the in­tro­duc­tion of full-time high-per­for­mance state coaches for the male and fe­male pro­grams.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion num­bers dur­ing his ten­ure grew from 133,209 at the end of 2011 to 216,000.

The hunt for a new CEO will be led by AFL ex­ec­u­tive Si­mon Leth­lean. AFL ex­ecu- tives and staff were in Bris­bane this week to fi­nalise Con­lan’s de­par­ture.

The de­ci­sion was made on Wed­nes­day at a meet­ing with AFL CEO Gil­lon McLach­lan, who will at­tend to­day’s Lion­sBull­dogs match at the Gabba.

“The growth of par­tic­i­pa­tion in Queens­land is a great re­flec­tion of the work done by AFLQ un­der Michael’s lead­er­ship,” McLach­lan said.

Con­lan told staff of his de­par­ture yesterday morn­ing.

“I had been want­ing to get home to fam­ily for a while and I just thought it was time,” he said. “I’m go­ing to have a bit of time off and then see what op­por­tu­ni­ties are go­ing to be around.”

Mean­while, Gold Coast Suns coach Rod­ney Eade said he ex­pected sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment next year af­ter the club was forced to learn some tough lessons dur­ing a shock­ing 2015 sea­son.

“It is not all fixed be­cause we have to keep grow­ing,’’ Eade said. “We have made ground, and we have still got ground to go be­cause what we are mea­sur­ing our­selves on is win­ning a premier­ship.”

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