The phrase “you get less for murder” gets bandied about pretty freely, but in the case of the AFL here it might actually be true: Collingwood young gun Jaidyn Stephenson has been absolutely bashed by league officials, who handed him an extraordinary 22-game suspension for betting on AFL games.

League officials slapped 20-year-old Stephenson, who won last year’s AFL Rising Star award in a walk, with the gargantuan suspension this afternoon, concluding an often-times farcical investigation after Stephenson self-reported himself on May 19th.

Stephenson had a friend place multi-leg bets on three Collingwood games – against the Western Bulldogs in round four, Essendon on ANZAC Day, and St Kilda in round nine. Those wagers involved bet combinations that involved Collingwood to win, Collingwood’s winning margin, Stephenson himself to kick a goal, Stephenson himself again to kick three or more goals, teammates to kick single and multiple goals, and teammates to exceed a number of disposals. None of the bets were successful.

The suspension includes a $20,000 fine, but wholly suspends 12 of the weeks, meaning Stephenson will only serve 10 weeks in the initial period – effectively ruling him out for the remainder of the current AFL season. That remaining 12-week suspended sentence will hang over the rest of his footballing career.

Following the ruling, Stephenson issued a remorseful statement via Collingwood, asserting he was devastated at his own actions and the outcome.

The suspension rates as the most severe gambling-related penalty in AFL history. Andrew Gaff got eight weeks for punching a kid’s face off last year. Stephenson gets TWENTY-TWO weeks for a trio of deadshit multis. Go figure.

Where the yarn gets deeply wild is when you consider the fact throughout the process, AFL media has been covering the issue on their own website, frequently in articles that were surrounded by numerous sports betting ads, due to the league’s extensive partnerships with companies like Sportsbet.

Worse still, today’s live stream of the AFL’s press conference ended with, would you believe, a post-roll ad for Bet365.

The young lad certainly deserved some sort of whack for what’s really quite a boneheaded decision, but you can’t help but think it’s been enabled from somewhere by someone.

Image: Getty Images / Michael Dodge