Danny Townsend has resigned his post as CEO of the APL. PHOTO: A-Leagues

The APL has announced that the face of the wildly unpopular grand final deal Danny Townsend will leave his position as CEO to take up a new role in the Middle East.

Townsend received majority of the backlash from fans over the APL’s decision to sell the hosting rights of the A-Leagues’ grand finals to Destination NSW over a three-year period.

The deal prompted fan walkouts, finals boycotts, and was the precursor to the Melbourne Derby invasion in December 2022.

Whilst the APL have negotiated a change in the agreement to return the hosting rights of the grand final to the highest ranked semi-final winner, Townsend’s position at the APL was untenable moving forward given the negative fan sentiment towards him as the face of the decision.

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Commissioner of the A-Leagues Nick Garcia and Managing Director of KeepUp James Rushden will lead the APL going forward.

The pair will report to the board and newly elected Independent Chair, the Hon Stephen Conroy, who thanked Townsend for his service to the A-Leagues.

“The APL has undergone extraordinary growth in just a two-and-a-half-year period under Danny’s leadership, and we thank him for his service to football in Australia and New Zealand,” Conroy said.

“Danny leaves the game stronger than ever, and with a talented and committed executive team in place.  We wish him every success in his new role.”

With the grand final decision now reversed and new faces of the A-Leagues, the APL can now truly begin the difficult task of regaining trust with fans going forward.

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