The AFL has today announced sweeping changes to the match review panel ahead of the 2018 season, with fines, reviews and bad record loading amongst a swathe of changes.
One of the most significant changes is long-time MRP member Michael Cristian becoming the sole match review official under the new system, replacing the panel of former players. Where the MRP was previously independent from the AFL, the MRP will now report directly to new AFL operations manager, Stephen Hocking.
The AFL has also scrapped the one-match discount offered to players that entered early guilty pleas, with clubs that elect to challenge the MRP ruling no longer doing so under the threat of a longer ban, but a $10,000 fine to be included in their soft football department cap if unsuccessful.
A regular criticism of the MRP in 2017 came from offences on Thursday and Friday night matches, with players, clubs and the league waiting until Monday for judgement. Starting in 2018 (on a trial basis), those matches will be reviewed within 24 hours, with any chargeable offence laid.
"Through the recent 2017 season there was regular public uncertainty on the rationale for key decisions, with only a small number of incidents receiving an explanation or assessed via a full open examination at the AFL Tribunal," Hocking said.
The new changes are intended to not only improve consistency, but transparency as well, and reduce the likelihood of panelists publicly complaining about the process, inequities and inadequacies.
- Three low-level offences in a season will no longer result in an automatic one-match suspension, with a fine now applicable for the third offence.
- Cases referred directly to the Tribunal will attract at least a three-week suspension save for exceptional circumstances.
- Staging will now attract a fine for a first offence. Automatic loading for players with bad records has been scrapped.
- Fines for low-level offences will increase from $2000 to $3000 for first offences, $3000 to $5000 for second offences and $5000 to $8000 for third offences.
- Charges from Thursday and Friday night games will be laid within 24 hours
- One match discount for early pleas have been scrapped
- Clubs' that unsuccessfully challenge MRP charges in the tribunal will be fined $10,000 in their soft football department cap
- Single MRP panelist
- MRP reports directly to the AFL instead of remaining an independent entity
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