Hawthorn investigation: AFL boss Gillon McLachlan set to postpone retirement as racism probe faces delay

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AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan could postpone his exit from the role after confirming the independent investigation into Hawthorn’s racism scandal could take months to complete.

The league has appointed former Western Bulldogs president Peter Gordon as their legal representative in the matter.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Tom Browne’s exclusive details on Hawthorn investigation delay.

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But the four-person panel set to probe ex-Hawks players’ claims of mistreatment has yet to be formed, delaying the start of the investigation.

7NEWS Melbourne’s Tom Browne reports the alleged victims are also consulting their own King’s Counsel on their strategy and rights.

“For example, what are the rules if they agree to participate in the AFL’s investigation?” Browne said.

“Can they speak and cross-examine Chris Fagan and Alastair Clarkson?”

With the grand final also in view, McLachlan told 7NEWS he was unable to make the expected progress on finalising the panel.

“I was hoping to get it done today, that’s not going to happen. We’re optimistic it’ll be early next week,” he said on Friday.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan addresses the Hawthorn review on Wednesday. Credit: AAP

He conceded the investigation has an open end date that could extend his tenure at the AFL.

McLachlan had intended to depart his role at the end of the season, having ticked off the TV broadcast rights deal from the top of his to-do list, but Hawthorn’s review has thrown out the plan.

“I don’t know how long it’ll be but I know that it’ll be at least a couple of months, I’m sure of it,” he said of the investigation timeframe.

“(My departure is) a discussion with the commission. What I did acknowledge it’s a challenging thing to leave open like this.”

The investigation’s delay could have far-reaching implications on the 2023 AFL season and multiple clubs and coaches.

Clarkson and Fagan have stood down from their roles at North Melbourne and Brisbane respectively pending the findings.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

Alastair Clarkson and Chris Fagan pictured during their time at Hawthorn. Credit: Getty

Browne reported a development coach gave supporting evidence to some claims in Hawthorn’s review.

The author, the club and the development coach are unable to comment.

Meanwhile, Fremantle and West Coast have both indicated they could get on the front foot and review their history.

AFL great Eddie Betts has led calls for all clubs to speak to their past and present Indigenous players.

“Since inception, the Fremantle Football Club has had a continuous history of strong Indigenous representation across both our men’s and women’s teams, as well as our board and administration, including our current club patron,” Dockers president Dale Alcock said in a statement.

“We are always looking at ways to improve on this legacy and are open to reviewing our past in a more formal capacity to ensure accurate truth telling of our history.”

Eddie Betts wants all clubs to look into their history with Indigenous players. Credit: AAP

Eagles chairman Russell Gibbs said First Nations people and players have been “fundamental” to the club’s success on and off the field.

“All of us at West Coast are committed to this relationship and ensuring it is healthy, transparent and honest,” he wrote in a statement.

“Creating a culturally safe environment for First Nations people has long been a part of how we run our club and operate in the community and we acknowledge that the maintenance of a safe and honest environment requires ongoing effort.

“West Coast is open to further review our practices to ensure that all our Indigenous players and their families – past and present – reflect with pride on their relationship with the West Coast Eagles, as the West Coast Eagles does with them.”

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