Well this one bloody well came out of left field. With no actual football to police over the off-season, the AFL is entering its usual mode of restlessly tinkering with the game whether it’s actually needed or not. Today’s baffling, out-of-the-blue revelation? The league is completely doing away with the accursed Match Review Panel. The MRP, mates. It’s gooooooooooooone.
The league has announced a complete overhaul of how players will be disciplined for on-field infractions, and the contentious MRP – which dished out punishments with all the consistency of a chameleon in a tumble dryer – is gone for good.
In its place, a single bloke. One man. That’s it. Just one bloke will decide who gets what for serving up knuckle sandwiches on-field. Former Collingwood premiership player Michael Christian will serve as the one-man match review officer for season 2018 and beyond; a former Magpie selected presumably to nip any potential Eddie McGuire-related grizzling off at the bud.
Christian will answer to the AFL’s new footy boss Steve Hocking, who will serve as a consultant for Christian before he hands down any potential penalties to players.
More to that, the MRP plea system is being binned altogether as well. Where players would be able to have their suspensions reduced by a week for pleading guilty early, now there will be no penalty for challenging a suspension at an AFL Tribunal. Rather, unsuccessful appeals will incur a $10,000 fee to the club.
The mandatory one-week suspension for players who receive three fines throughout the season is also gone, replaced with incrementally larger fines for each additional offence, meaning a player like Toby Greene will be able to play a full season of 22 games but he’ll probably be broke as fuck by the time finals rolls around.
The “one-man MRP” will also deliberate on Thursday and Friday night games within 24 hours, preventing players under question from dangling in limbo for a whole weekend.
Also, staging is now a punishable offence that attracts a fine for a first infraction. Alex Rance just did a big, cartoon-style gulp.
Never underestimate the AFL’s ability to never stop fidgeting in their seat. Truly, the psycho kid fucked up on red cordial at a 5th birthday party of the sporting administrative world.