Sport AFL AFL scraps match review panel, Michael Christian introduced to oversee revamped system

AFL scraps match review panel, Michael Christian introduced to oversee revamped system

The Trent Cotchin case was a major talking point through grand final week. Photo: AAP
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The AFL has scrapped its match review panel (MRP), appointing Collingwood premiership player and media personality Michael Christian as a sole match review officer.

Beefed-up fines and quicker turnaround times will feature in the new system, with Christian answering to the AFL rather than sitting as an independent body.

Announcing the changes – as part of a long-awaited review – AFL football boss Steve Hocking said his goal was to create a “streamlined and consistent” system more easily understood by fans and clubs.

The changes will allow for judgments on incidents that occur during games on Thursday and Friday nights to be handed down the next day rather than Monday as has been the case in the past.

Saturday and Sunday matches will still be reviewed on Monday and the tribunal will continue to sit on Tuesday evening if required.

While players will be slugged with higher fines under the extensive overhaul, they should miss fewer games under the new system.

The application of a bad-record penalty has been discarded and the automatic one-match suspension for a third fine in a season has also been scrapped.

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There are also likely to be more cases heard by the tribunal, with clubs incurring a $10,000 fee for an unsuccessful challenge, instead of their player being slapped with an increased penalty.

Players will still get an early guilty plea discount on fines – which have been doubled, with a first offence to incur a $3000 penalty, $5000 for a second and $8000 for a third – but the discount for suspensions has been scrapped.

The changes come after a frustrating year for players and fans confused by some of the penalties handed down by the MRP.

“Alongside consistency of decision making and the rationale for decisions, the fine quantum for some offences, the disincentive to challenge any charge at the tribunal and the application of a bad record have been consistently the major areas of club, player and media discussion,” Hocking said.

“The focus of this review has been to retain the strong parts of the system that allow players to accept a penalty for pleading guilty to an offence, but ensuring too that players will face increased sanctions for continued low-level offences that are not deserving of missing matches.”