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Fumbles put AFL bosses firmly in spotlight

  • Chat with Rohan Connolly here from midday. Leave a question in the comments field below

That's it for today's blog, thanks a lot for all your comments and questions, see you back here at 12pm next Thursday!

TOMORROW night's blockbuster between Hawthorn and Geelong should be a beauty. And it certainly can't come quickly enough for the AFL, which needs a win far more desperately than either the Cats or Hawks.

This has been a pretty ordinary little period for league football on several levels, but more specifically the way it is being administered, with this week's re-emergence of the tanking issue just the latest thorny problem to confront the league.

The cumulative bottom line is a football public whose faith in the powers-that-be to oversee the game has been eroded to depths as low as I can remember, at least since the mid-1990s, when the AFL was attempting to merge several clubs out of existence.

There's the tanking controversy that refuses to die. There's continued griping about the various contradictions and the inconsistency of the judicial arm of the game through the match review panel and tribunal.

There's a video referral system for disputed goal-umpiring decisions, which remains clunky, and for which the technology remains inadequate despite it first having been mooted about 18 months before it was introduced. There's increasing grumbles about the injury rate and scepticism about the AFL's methodology in attempting to reduce it, even the veracity of the figures which claim it is, in fact, on the decline.

There's continued and more vociferous complaints about the uneven fixture and the advantages handed those who get to play the competition weaklings twice, plus real concerns from the clubs about the length of the season, the toll taken on players and the quality of the spectacle they're providing.

On that purely aesthetic level, there are a couple of new teams getting ritually smashed, with the prospect of a lot more floggings to come.

And underpinning all the discontent, a deeply rooted cynicism about the AFL administration's capacity to put things right, which - going back to the clumsy handling of the affair involving AFL community engagement manager Jason Mifsud at the start of the season - subsequent events have only enshrined.

The fact the guffawing continues at the league's vigorous denials that tanking has ever taken place shows the stock the public puts in the league's fairly rudimentary ''investigation'' last year when departing Melbourne coach Dean Bailey alluded to the practice. And the decision to investigate further after the Brock McLean revelations seems only to confirm the inadequacy of those initial interrogations.

Match review panel findings are now known as a form of football ''chooklotto'', the head apparently sacrosanct in cases like Jack Ziebell's, not so in this week's deliberations on Scott Thompson.

We've had legislation on the run via the slide tackle controversy, a virtual admission on the tanking front that the AFL hasn't asked enough questions, and, on the lack of competitiveness of Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney, acting chief executive Gillon McLachlan conceding, ''I think we probably underestimated the amount of pain''.

All that doesn't engender confidence they're getting anything much right of late. And one thing the AFL bosses really wouldn't want to underestimate right now is the extent to which they're on the nose with their football public.

Chat live with Rohan Connolly from midday today to discuss footy's hottest issues. Tanking: does the system oblige lowly clubs to play for draft picks? Is Hawthorn better without Buddy, a question colleague Martin Blake considers today. And disquiet on the western front - what do you make of the struggling Bulldogs' unusual written plea to members?

Send in your questions and comments now.


  • Some umpiring decisions this year have been unfathomable.

    Is it me or does it seem that when a team gets a bad run with the umpires one week they will get a sweeter run with the umpires the next.

    For the last few years my frustration with the way umpiring works from week to week is growing. Jeff Gieschen coaches the umpires the way he coached Richmond. Up one week. Down the next.

    On the weekend you could not buy a holding the ball decision, unless you pull the ball out of the ruck after a bad bounce.

    Next week anyone who touches the ball and gets caught will get pinged.

    I would not be surprised if the umpires start alternating between white and black shorts...

    Job For Life
    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 11:00AM
    • Hi Job, I'm not a serial umpire basher, but even I've become a little frustrated by them lately, thought the Carlton-Richmond game in particular was over-umpired, and not enough latitude given for greasy conditions. The umpires insist they don't have flavours of the month, but I think even sub-consciously the focus areas they might concentrate on in any particular week end up becoming the ones which they'll be red-hot on come game day. At the moment, I think there's a bit too much latitude being given with handball, been seeing a lot of blatant throws go unpunished the last couple of rounds.

      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 12:13PM
  • Two quick ones Rohan:

    1. The Hawks are renown for their kicking efficiency, but Isaac Smith seems to be one of the worst kicks in the AFL. For a young player that runs so well and gets so much of the ball, it really is a shame that his disposal lets him down time and time again. Do you think this will mean he might not make the cut come finals time, and how does it look for his future?

    2. Tanking. We all know it happens - that argument seems redundant now. But why should players and future players of clubs suffer for it? Shouldn't the board members/directors that give the orders (Draft picks over wins) be sanctioned, and also the coaches that carry out these orders? As much as everyone likes Dean Bailey and applaud his openness previously in discussing it, I do think it deserves to be looked at. Fines and removing draft picks from the club will just about kill them.

    Edgar Poe
    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 11:10AM
    • Hi Edgar, 1. Noticed last week he does kick the odd "mongrel". I still think he's an important part of their best 22, though, because of his pace. They're not an overly zippy side, though they run well, that explosiveness through the middle complements the grinders like Mitchell and Sewell beautifully. 2. I really think it's going to be a difficult thing to ever nail a club or individuals over, because unless there's an admission as blunt as "we deliberately tried to lose" or "I deliberately missed that shot at goal", the culprits are going to be able to mask their intent under the guise of development. Personally, I'm not reassured, either, by the fact the AFL will now be the arbiter of priority picks with a formula that is subjective. That just leaves them open for a whole new set of allegations.

      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 12:19PM
  • Rohan, what is your opinion on Majak Daw? I think since North is playing a few dud teams in the run home it is time to unleash him and give him a go at AFL level. If not this week against the Bulldogs then definitely in Round 23 against GWS.

    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 11:18AM
    • Hi Guru, He's super-athletic, touch of the Naitanuis about him, but I guess in football education terms is still pretty raw. Perhaps they're a little reluctant to unleash him now given their finals spot (no matter how good the draw looks at face value) is still very precarious. If they can shore it up by then, the round 23 game against the Giants does look like a very good opportunity to give him a taste, though.

      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 12:22PM
  • With the uneven draw is it still appropriate that teams with the same points at the end of the season be separated by percentage for ladder positions? Isn't it time that the positions at the end of the season be determined by the result of the last meeting between the teams tied on points and then if necessary in a three or four way tie use percentage as the next tie breaker.

    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 11:32AM
    • Hi kcabotkcab (what is that?!), I know the draw is an even bigger factor this year given GWS and Gold Coast, but I'm not a big fan of tampering with something as fundamental to the competition as the ladder system. Think we're just going to have to be patient waiting for the "chopping blocks" to become more competitive, and in the mean time, hope that when the fixture is done there's very careful consideration given to who plays both the Giants and Suns twice (like only those teams who finish immediately above them this year).

      Rohan Connolly
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 12:28PM
  • I am charging the AFL CEO and OM with bringing the game into disrepute, due to turning a blind eye to 'tanking'. The charge is applied as follows:

    On the basis that

    A - Their inability to acknowledge that tanking took place was intentional

    B - Their inability to acknowledge that even your average supporter has a satisfactory level of intelligence was rough conduct

    C - They had other alternatives, in other words, they could have been honest.

    Due to the CEO's poor record with his bumbled handling of Jason Misfud, poor treatment of the Tasmanian AFL bid and general ability to entertain anyone;s opinion but his, he can accept a 5 year ban from the AFL, which can be dropped to 4 years with an early plea.

    Due to the OM's poor record including the sub rule, introduction of the score review system, obviously inadequate investigation of the Dean Bailey tanking claims, he can accept a 3 year ban, with this dropped to two years with a guilty plea. This lesser verdict is due to the puppet nature of the vast majority of his comments, we also accept that he can only draw on his experience in D grade amateur reserves when it comes to actual football matters.

    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 11:36AM
    • Is it possible to win a Pulitzer for internet comments? I would like to nominate yours.

      Edgar Poe
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 12:12PM

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