Gillon McLachlan says he feels it’s the “right time” to announce his stepping aside as AFL chief executive at the end of the 2022 season.

He made the call during a presser on Tuesday morning.

“I just feel it’s the right time” now to make the call, he said.

“It’s clearly emotional for me ‘cos it’s been such a big part of my life.”

McLachlan was appointed to replace Andrew Demetriou in the top job in April 2014.

There had been speculation that he would stand down during the past couple of years but he resolved to stay on as the sport negotiated the huge challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the most significant achievements during McLachlan’s time at the helm was the introduction of the AFLW competition, which will expand again to 18 teams for the upcoming season.

The South Australian joined the AFL in May 2000.

Being being promoted to CEO, his roles at the sport’s governing body included general manager commercial operations, chief operating officer and deputy CEO.

Richmond CEO Brendon Gale – who has has overseen the Tigers’ recent period of dominance including premierships in 2017, 2019 and 2020 – and highly-rated AFL executive member Travis Auld are likely to be among the early favourites to replace McLachlan.