Ex-Foxtel & Nielsen Sport execs join the Australian Professional Leagues

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have announced a first string of executive appointments since breaking off from Football Australia in late 2020, with Ant Hearne and Michael Tange joining the organsation.

The APL took control of Australian football’s premier competitions the A-League, W-League and Y-League, after years of the leagues pushing for independence.

APL chief commercial officer Ant Hearne

Ant Hearne joins the APL in the role of chief commercial officer, and will lead all commercial activities including user experience, marketing, content, sponsorships, rights negotiations and other revenue opportunities.

Hearne was previously with Foxtel’s Streamotion, working as the chief commercial officer of Kayo, Binge, WatchAFL and WatchNRL.

Michael Tange is the other executive hire, joining the APL as strategy and digital director. Tange has spent 15 years in global sports, data and tech roles, having most recently worked at Nielsen Sports in New York, and will now lead strategy, digital development and media rights for APL.

Hearne said the time has now come to unlock commercial outcomes to fuel sustainable growth for football in Australia.

“Football represents the biggest growth opportunity in Australian sport – we’ve got twice as many participants as any other game in this country, we’re leaders in women’s sport (with all eyes on the game in the lead up to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup), and key to our future growth is the fact that we have the youngest and most diverse fans of any sport.

“It’s now time to deliver commercial outcomes that will fuel the sustainable growth of the game.

“Our teams are playing exciting, fast-paced, uncompromising football in front of the most passionate fans and it’s the APL’s mission is to take that direct-to-consumer in order to unlock the power of the fan and ultimately grow the whole game. It’s going to be an exciting ride.”

APL commissioner Greg O’Rourke will continue to lead operations, along with deputy commissioner Tracey Scott, who joins the APL after six years with Football Australia.

APL chair Paul Lederer said the new team will deliver the right outcomes for all of football in Australia.

“With full ownership of the four leagues, we have an ambitious vision for the growth of the game at every level.

“The new, expanded executive team have been tasked with unleashing the APL’s commercial and entrepreneurial capabilities, and we now have a structure that will enable them to deliver the right outcomes for all of Australian football,” he said.

Since becoming part of the APL, the A-League and W-League has signed partnerships with Bunnings, Epic Games and more.


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