The AFL is set to introduce an additional pitch referee per game from next season in a bid to prolong officials’ careers by reducing their physical toll.
According to Caroline Wilson of The Age, the number of referees on the field will increase from three to four next season, with the league having a long-term vision of having five to six referees on the field per game.
The decision will see the total list of referees drop from 34 to 42, with the AFL having to pay a wage bill of up to $1.5 million as a result of the decision.
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“Eighty percent of referees are thrilled. That means more referees on the roster,” Wilson told Nine’s. Footy Ranked change.
“For really fit and incredibly agile referees, it doesn’t make a big difference for them, (but) it’s seen as a way to get more women into refereeing.
“I think the AFL commission and the executive have finally listened and realized that this is a crisis in our game and they need to address it.”
Former AFL manager Ross Lyon says the move will have a major impact on how the game plays out.
“It has a number of ripple effects,” he said. Footy Ranked.
“It would mean better decision-making because they are less tired and you can keep your best referees officiating (longer). Players adapt and there would be less restraint.
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“There will be more goals scored because the offenses would be blown away (more). At either end you won’t get away with anything.”
Increasing the number of umpires was one of two things on the committee’s agenda, with the possibility that the traditional center rebound could be abolished.
However, a decision on the rebound has yet to be finalized until next season.
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