The Western Bulldogs have appointed a former international executive of Nike as their new top dog to lift the club out of the AFL’s basement.
David Stevenson will join the Victorian club as chief executive following a wide search for a replacement for Simon Garlick, who left the Bulldogs in January after coach Brendan McCartney resigned months earlier.
Stevenson, who grew up in Melbourne supporting the Demons, has worked at Nike for 17 years, most recently as a sales vice president at the company’s world headquarters in Portland, USA.
Bulldogs president Peter Gordon says Stevenson was not the obvious given his background but was the best prospect to grow the club, which has had a strong start to the season by winning its first two matches.
“Dave (Stevenson) is definitely not a steady-as-she-goes choice,” Gordon said on Wednesday.
“Instead, we believe he represents a transformational opportunity for the Club.
“We want to make a permanent move out of the basement of the AFL size-wise, profit-wise and success-wise.”
Stevenson, who played amateur football for Yarra Valley, will relocate to Melbourne with his family over the coming weeks before starting his new role in August.
He has high hopes for his new club, which has not played finals since 2010 but looks to have turned the tide early this year under new coach Luke Beveridge, helped by exciting youngsters like Marcus Bontempelli and Jake Stringer coming through.
“The Bulldogs have … a prime opportunity to galvanise its position and achieve things in the next ten years that would have been unthinkable not so long ago,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson said he will take what he’s learned in his commercial roles at Nike and apply it at the Bulldogs, and said growing women’s involvement in the club will be a focus under his leadership at Whitten Oval.
The Bulldogs board pored over dozens of applications from sporting codes and private industries – both domestic and international – in their search for a new CEO, and were assisted by the AFL in the final stages of the selection process.