Some untalented potatoes on Saturday. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has blamed what appears to be an increasing prevalence of ugly football on clubs having too many untalented "spuds" because of the draft concessions given to expansion clubs.
The Swans' dour 11-point win over Richmond on Friday night, where only 16 goals were kicked despite a combined 730 disposals, was another flashpoint in the congested football and rolling-maul debate. The Tigers were also criticised on Saturday for their willingness to hold on to the ball through short kicks and their indirect play. The Swans, by contrast, appeared to want to open up the contest.
That the umpires appear to be holding off for longer from blowing the whistle when the ball is stuck in a pack also adds to the congested look, prompting AFL umpires boss Wayne Campbell to admit on ABC radio that Friday night had been "a bit of a mystery" with umpires taking too long to blow their whistle.
"Clearly, we are having some trouble with holding the ball [decisions] at the moment," Campbell said.
Attendances have dipped in Melbourne this year, possibly in part because power clubs Richmond, Carlton and Essendon have had indifferent campaigns, and this wasn't helped by a poor turnout of 34,633 who showed up at the MCG on Friday night.
Congested football has been of an increasing concern among some commentators, with AFL legend Kevin Bartlett even fearful for the game's future while Leigh Matthews has suggested implementing zones.
McGuire said the draft concessions given to the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney, robbing rival sides of blue-chip talent, was now having a negative impact on the look of many games.
"What we are seeing at the moment is the extrapolation of all things that the AFL has put in. The commission has been fantastic and we love them being independent, but they are not the Vatican, they are not without blame," he said.
"If you look at last night's [Friday] game, and everyone is carrying on, there is a reason why the football standard is down at the moment and that's because we have too many 'spuds' playing. It's as simple as that.
"When the actual motion [for expansion] was put at the president's meeting and they said: 'What do we all think?' I said: 'I am all for this'. They said: 'Why?' I said: 'Because I reckon I am a chance to get a game'.
"The spread is too much. We have too many blokes playing at the top level who aren't top-level players."
McGuire warned there could be more pain ahead in terms of the spread of talent in this year's draft.
"I will put up another one that is going to become a very vexed topic for the next two years - and that is the academies that Brisbane and Sydney have got," he said.
"There is no one out of Western Australia this year [of note in the national draft] so you have got NSW and Queensland where they have their own academies. They have got kids there that are 12 years of age and can be brought through and nurtured. I know of one boy who is nine in Sydney.
"The rest of us this year have to have a lucky dip, basically, out of Victoria and South Australia. It's tough out there. We said at the time [of expansion] it was spread too thin but we have got what we have got and we have to bounce back from it."
* Brisbane Lions' board director Leigh Matthews has confirmed the club has opened discussions with former Carlton chief executive Greg Swann, who offically left the Blues on Friday. Matthews said he hopes Swann takes charge of the financially struggling club.