AFL general manager football operations Steve Hocking said the commission had approved a number of changes to the system, after a detailed review following the conclusion of the 2017 season.

Hocking said the number of Thursday and Friday night matches, and the focus around these games, required the AFL to consider reviewing those games within 24 hours and this would be trialled in 2018.

He said low-level offences would now incur increasing financial sanctions, rising from $1500 (first offence) and $2500 (second offence) to $3000 and $5000, but the AFL had removed the previous instance where a player would face a one-game suspension at the third offence.

A player would now face an increased $8000 sanction at the third offence as a deterrent.

“Eligibility for the Brownlow Medal will be determined on the basis only of whether a player has missed a game through suspension in that particular season,” Hocking said.

 Hocking said the key changes were:

  • Move to a single decision maker model for the Match Review Panel, instead of using a panel of former players
  • The trial of expedited outcomes in 2018 by adjudicating Thursday and Friday matches within 24 hours
  • Increase to the quantum of low-level financial sanctions and remove the third low-level offence equating to a one-match suspension, replacing it with a larger fine
  • Remove the one-match discount for an early plea, and replace it with a $10,000 club cost in the event the charge is unsuccessfully challenged
  • Remove the automatic bad record loading but retain the discretion of the MRP to refer any incident to the Tribunal on account of poor player record (where it can be considered in the final sanction)
  • Retain the current threshold for Brownlow ineligibility, whereby a one-match suspension rules a player out of the award (A financial sanction only for a player means he remains eligible for the Medal)
  • Clarify that ‘exemplary record’ refers to matches played at AFL/state league level only
  • Modify the Table of Offences such that the sanction for direct referrals is specified to be at least three matches
  • Amend staging to a financial sanction for a first offence under the same criteria as other fixed financial sanctions
  • Appeals of Tribunal determinations be limited to the player/person who is the subject of the charge and the AFL GMFO
  • Retain the current system for umpire match day reports but do not compel their attendance at Tribunal hearings
  • Continue to utilise ‘Misconduct’ or ‘Attempt to Strike’ to financially sanction strikes to the head with negligible force