Former Geelong dual premiership captain Tom Harley has been entrusted with the job of succeeding the hugely successful Andrew Ireland as Sydney’s next AFL chief executive.
Harley, who played 198 games for the Cats, was appointed the Swans’ head of football in late 2014 after spending time as the general manager at AFL NSW/ACT.
He will take over from Ireland at the end of 2018.
“The Swans have reaffirmed my passion for the game, so it’s a real privilege and an honour to take this opportunity,” Harley said.
“Under Andrew Ireland, I’ve had a great learning experience and I think our team, from the football department to the broader staff, understand what I stand for.”
Ireland notified the board in 2016 of his longer-term intentions.
“I’m rapt that Tom will be my replacement as I’m certain he has all the attributes to be a strong CEO for the Sydney Swans,” Ireland said.
“He’s a great leader and culturally a terrific fit for the club.”
Ireland has developed a reputation for being one of Australia’s most astute and shrewd sporting administrators.
Since he joined the club in 2002 as general manager of football, Sydney have reached five grand finals, winning two flags.
They have played finals in 13 of the last 14 seasons and achieved record growth in all commercial areas of the club since he became CEO in 2009.
Prior to joining Sydney, former Collingwood player Ireland oversaw the remarkable turnaround in fortunes of the Brisbane AFL team.
From the perennially struggling Bears based on the Gold Coast, through their relocation to Brisbane and amalgamation with Fitzroy, to becoming the Lions, and onto the start of their premiership hat-trick in 2001.
Ireland won’t be lost to the Swans, as their succession plan includes him remaining as a board director and long-term consultant in the areas of business operations and list management.
“Andrew Ireland is among the most respected and experienced football administrators in Australia and his contribution to the Sydney Swans cannot be overstated,” Swans’ chairman Andrew Pridham said.
“He played a pivotal role in winning the 2005 premiership, our first in 72 years, and has been a fundamental driver of a culture and process that has delivered sustained high performance on and off the field.
“I have the upmost confidence in Tom’s capacity to undertake the role of CEO with energy and imagination.”