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Key AFL executive headhunted by NBA



One of the leading architects in getting the AFL season up and running in 2020 has been headhunted by the NBA and will move to New York later this year in a senior capacity.

Pat Clifton, a key lieutenant to AFL footy boss Steve Hocking, will join the NBA as an associate vice-president in their player health team.

Clifton, 37, was a key driver of the AFL’s Return to Play Protocols, a 38-page document that governed the AFL’s rules the shutdown period between March and June, the return to training that followed and then life in the hubs. He also wrote a complementary 40-page ‘FAQ’ document that answered pretty much every question that every club had asked over the course of the entire season.

He also represented the League through the year in a working group with other major sports some of whose own protocols matched those of the AFL, which is where he came to the attention of the NBA.

“It’s a good role, and after speaking to the people at the AFL, the view from all of them was that I can’t turn down this opportunity," he said.

“The NBA had a really successful season in the bubble and now with the return to market, their team is expanding pretty rapidly,” he said. “It’s a whole new challenge.”

Before the coronavirus changed the trajectory of the AFL, Clifton, who has been with the AFL for eight years, helped lead the game’s research into concussion – where it was also a world leader - and was also heavily involved in the tribunal, the match review panel and the newly-created ARC.

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