AFLNT CEO Michael Solomon resigns

Michael Solomon with Andrew Hodges

AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) wishes to advise that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Solomon has tendered his resignation to take on a new challenge with a global focus, and will finish in his current role on NTFL men’s grand final day, Saturday 17 March 2018. 

Appointed as AFLNT CEO in September 2015, Solomon’s resignation comes six and a half years after he first joined the AFL in Melbourne, where he was an integral part of the strategic development and start-up of the AFL Media business unit.
Over the last two and a half years, his work in the NT has delivered growth in Territory football on a local and national stage, produced financially viable competitions and products, driven innovation, and increased staff engagement.  

Under the guidance of Solomon, AFLNT has delivered significant achievements across all facets of the business:

  • Participation rose by 10% (2016) and 6% (2017) per annum

    • Almost a quarter of the Territory is now involved with AFL
    • Female growth grew by 23% and 15% each year, respectively
    • More than 28,000 participants are from non-metropolitan areas of the NT
  • Creation of AFLW Crows innovation and alignment

    • Nine players and two coaches in 2017
    • Winning inaugural Premiership in 2017
    • NT Government and local business sponsor backing
  • Bedded down the National Next Generation Academies structures and alignment with AFL clubs

  • Created equal talent pathways and opportunities for all players and umpires

    • VFLW license for an NT Thunder women’s team in 2018
    • Regional academies structure and NT Thunder Academy creation
    • Increased scholarship and funding for players and umpires in national academies and programs
  • Realignment of AFLNT run-competitions under common set of guidelines and operational procedures

  • Procured funding for infrastructure upgrades across the Territory

    • TIO Stadium re-paint, lighting upgrades including a fifth tower, corporate box, changeroom and bathroom renovations
    • TIO Oval 2 fencing, scoreboard upgrade and shelters
    • TIO Stadium naming rights renewal for 10 years
    • TIO Traeger Park expansion of Mona’s Bar
  • Growth in commercial revenue up 9% year on year

  • Consolidated existing AFL game deal and secured an additional two years for AFL games to be played in the Territory

  • Secured federal government funding for the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre and have created a strategy to see it succeed into the future

    • Increased football and community development roles in remote NT
    • Expansion of the student leadership and education program
    • Secured significant funding from Prime Minister and Cabinet for remote development programs
  • Establishment of the Michael Long Foundation which has been registered as a charity and a PBI and has ATO approval for tax concessions and DGR endorsement

  • Improved AFLNT media business and lead the national state agenda for state-based media

    • Establishment of new digital websites and fan engagement products
    • Unprecedented growth in social media engagement compared to other NT sporting organisations and other AFL state bodies
    • Creation of regular NTFL coverage with two games broadcast on TV every week, a national live NTFL grand final broadcast in 2018 and the whole NT Thunder men’s NEAFL season
    • Secured agreement for AFLNT radio show, to commence in February this year
  • Increased staff engagement metrics and recognition with national award winners coming from AFLNT

  • Increased diversification of staff and board members

  • Delivered a comprehensive three-year strategic plan for all of AFLNT business

Solomon said his decision to resign as AFLNT CEO was not an easy one. 

“I have been so fortunate and will forever be grateful for my time at the helm of football in the Northern Territory. I go with mixed emotions but believe that I also leave NT football in a good place and hope to see the game continue to grow, and our profile on the national stage become one that we should all be proud of.
“I believe that AFLNT is in good hands with a refreshed and active executive team, a supportive and active board, strong succession plans and a strategic plan that will continue to drive the right outcomes for football in the NT well into the future.
“I will dearly miss my colleagues and friends that I have made over the past two and a half years and really want to see them and AFLNT continue to thrive. I’m excited by the new opportunity I am about to undertake but will remain a close friend of AFLNT to ensure the transition period is one that goes unnoticed.
“Finally, thank you to all our partners, clubs, fans and friends for their support. This game is the best game on earth and footy in the NT in my view is the epitome of what our great game is all about,” he said. 

AFLNT Chairman Ross Coburn said that during his tenure, Solomon had driven changes for the betterment of football.

“I’ve been around NT football for many years, and the change for the positive Michael and his team have made over the past two and a half years has been amazing. 

“Michael has been offered a truly remarkable opportunity and will pursue that with mine and the board’s blessing. 

“We are delighted that he will remain as a director of the newly established Michael Long Foundation, and will continue his involvement with football more broadly in other advisory roles. We also look forward to having his continuous involvement within the football landscape for the NT.

“The AFL ethos is that each person leaves the game in a better position than when they arrived, and this is something I believe Michael has delivered in spades.

“I would personally like to thank Michael and his wife, Jo, as well as their children for the commitment and dedication they have all shown towards football in the Northern Territory. They leave an enduring positivity for football both locally and nationally and a platform for growth that will pay dividends in years to come,” Coburn said. 

Solomon’s new role in the technology sector will have a global focus but will allow him, Jo and their two young children to remain in Darwin before relocating to Adelaide at the end of the year. 
Starting next week, the AFL is expected to commence a thorough recruitment process to find a suitable replacement.