AFL growth in NSW and ACT supported by Strategic Advisory Group

The AFL has announced the appointment of a Strategic Advisory Group, adding capability and experience to its NSW and ACT operations, to help drive growth and underpin the future of the game in NSW and ACT.

The Strategic Advisory Group comprises experienced business leaders from inside and outside the Australian rules football industry, who will provide guidance and support for AFL NSW/ACT to deliver on its growth strategy. 

A Strategic Advisory Group has also been set up to support the game in Queensland. 

Building on the AFL’s commitment to the long-term success of the game at all levels in the northern markets, including significant investment in game development, the new Advisory Groups will focus on providing strategic advice and playing an advisory role on AFL priorities in NSW/ACT and QLD. 

Experienced lawyer and board director Hayden Stephens, who has been appointed Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group in NSW/ACT, said: “AFL is the heartbeat of the nation and NSW and ACT provides Australia’s largest population, biggest economy and most opportunities for our great game. 

“This group will do all it can to support the AFL in grasping every opportunity in the region to provide a constant growth stream in participation and fans.”

Head of AFL NSW/ACT, Tiffany Robertson said: “The AFL has long acknowledged NSW and the ACT as markets essential to growing the game and making it sustainable long term.

“This group will add to the significant resourcing and investment we have made in this region. I look forward to working with the Strategic Advisory Group to align strategy and plans to ensure the best footy outcomes in NSW and the ACT, positively affecting everyone in our footy community.”

AFL NSW/ACT Strategic Advisory Group structure and members
The group will comprise up to 10 members including its Chair, four AFL staff, one representative from each of the Swans and GIANTS, and up to five individuals from outside the AFL. The group will meet several times annually.

External members 

  • Hayden Stephens (Chair) is a senior lawyer with expertise in class actions and employment law. Hayden has held several leadership roles, including CEO and non-executive director at Board level of an ASX listed, professional services company. He also served as a Director on the Board of the Western Bulldogs AFL team. Hayden is now principal of his own firm.
  • Lindy Jones is a change and transformation specialist working in financial services and academia. She is a Director in the People and Change practice at global management consulting firm KPMG and a member of the Executive MBA Advisory Board at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She has executive leadership experience across disciplines including marketing, digital, brand/reputation management, corporate affairs, sustainability/ESG, risk and regulation, change management, capability uplift and culture change.
  • Michael Hobby has worked in investment banking and chartered accounting firms for more than 20 years and is currently Managing Director and Co-Head of Asia Pacific Syndicated and Leveraged Finance at Bank of America. He is responsible for originating, structuring and execution of leveraged and acquisition financing for financial sponsors and corporates across the Asia Pacific region.

The AFL will imminently appoint the final two members of the group, to make the full complement of 10. These two members will be announced when their appointment is finalised.

Summary of recent key announcements and areas of investment:

  • – A 35 per cent increase on investment in Game Development in 2023 compared with 2022 (up to $67 million nationally)
  • – Creating the Expansion Hub to improve fan and participant outcomes in Greater Sydney
  • – Securing around $50 million worth of funding for state and territory significant facilities projects in 2022
  • – $500,000 in Club Development Grants to support growth and help volunteers strengthen their club network
  • – $5 million boost to female football nationally, led by the Women and Girls’ Action Plan
  • – Increasing game development delivery resourcing across Greater Sydney, through a $2.6 million investment over two years
  • – Unlocking funds for Canberra via a new $1 million ACT Community Football Facility Fund.
  • – Bolstering commitment to AFL in schools, including a free curriculum-aligned primary school program