AFL CEO McLachlan ‘clear favourite’ to be Brisbane Olympics 2032 boss

In Olympic Games

The race to be the inaugural Brisbane Olympics 2032 boss has been narrowed down to former AFL supremo Gill McLachlan and former Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah.

An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week on the position, which is regarded as the one of the most prized in Australian sport.

Olympic sources told Sky News Australia the candidates for the CEO role have been shortlisted and Mr McLachlan is the clear favourite.

“They’re working on salary and conditions with both Gill and Paul (Scurrah),’’ said the source.

McLachlan has presided over a stellar seven-year stint as AFL boss, although the final week of the season was marred by the Hawthorn racism row.

He was seen at the MCG on Saturday at his last AFL grand final as CEO, rubbing shoulders with the nation’s corporate elite.

McLachlan is Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s preferred CEO, although she also has a lot of time for Mr Scurrah, who spent 18 months at the helm of Virgin Australia and is a former Suns AFL club board member.

McLachlan has his Melbourne home up for sale at a price tag of $9 million.

Mr Scurrah is the Harvard-educated managing director of Pacific National, the country’s largest private rail operator.

Scurrah and his wife Nicole became embroiled in controversy in late 2019 after a senior Palaszczuk government official was criticised for ­accepting a luxury Whistler ski holiday from a major government consultant and former adviser to Labor premier Anna Bligh.

The Liberal National Party accused senior Treasury official Matt Collins of publicly declaring the January trip — with his partner, Employment Minister Shannon Fentiman, and his old boss, Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, and her husband — months too late.

All four were hosted in January at the Whistler ski chalet belonging to Ms Bligh’s former chief of staff, ­Nicole Scurrah — now a senior consultant at PwC — and her husband, Paul Scurrah, the chief executive of Virgin.

Ms Scurrah and PwC were seconded by Queensland Treasury to advise the government on how to slash its spending on consultants.

The government said Ms Scurrah was a personal friend of the trio.

Olympics chairman Andrew Liveris has had talks with both front runners.

“It’s Gill’s if he wants it and can agree to terms,’’ said an Olympics source.

McLachlan was at the MCG on Saturday for his final grand final as CEO.

His replacement is expected to be announced soon.

Speculation about who will take on the $1 million plus a year salary comes as the demolition and rebuild of the Gabba as the Olympics Games’ main venue is being questioned.

There are also problems about how the Olympics venues and transport will be delivered because the government has not yet set up the Olympics delivery authority.

The government has commissioned a “project validation’’ report into why it would spend a fortune on a new stadium at the Gabba for just 5,000 extra seats.

Government sources say the original cost estimate of $1 billion for the Gabba’s demolition and rebuild was “laughable’’ and it may well double, or be even be as high as $2.5 billion.

“All for an extra 8000 seats?’’ said an insider.

“It’s nuts.’’

Strategy experts Populis and project management firm RPS have been tasked with examining business cases for the Gabba and Brisbane Live, which will likely host the swimming at Roma Street.

The Gabba currently has a capacity of 43,000, which would rise to 48,000 for the new stadium.

The original aim was to redevelop the Gabba so that it could be used for the athletics and opening and closing ceremonies.

But with the exorbitant costs – including expensive land resumptions and the dislocation of the Lions AFL club – the government is now looking at other options.

Read More: AFL CEO McLachlan ‘clear favourite’ to be Brisbane Olympics 2032 boss

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