Umpires being dropped due to unsatisfactory performances are having to umpire another round of AFL matches before eventually being omitted to the state leagues.
According to the Herald Sun‘s Sam Landsberger, whistleblowers have said the current roster system in place means that some umpires have been entering AFL games – knowing they are being dropped – in a poor head space and low on confidence.
The scheduling issue is due to the umpires requiring advanced notice for matches they are designated to, as well as having ample time to organise travel arrangements.
It is believed that umpires can be dropped for poor performances, but then be summoned to officiate in another AFL match within 48 hours of the omission.
According to Landsberger, the umpiring department is disappointed with the AFL’s lack of support, and that the constant cycle of negativity surrounding their roles has made for a difficult and unpleasant workplace.
Umpires have been under the blowtorch for the first six rounds of the season, with a number of contentious decisions sparking fierce debate within the football fraternity.
Feelings were heightened following last Thursday’s ANZAC Day clash between Essendon and Collingwood, with a number of controversial decisions leading to a hostile reception at the MCG in the aftermath of the match.
Senior umpire Shaun Ryan came out in the ensuing days, stating on SEN that five of the most controversial umpiring decisions in the final quarter were all correct – seemingly leading to more disconnect and disgruntlement amongst fans.
“There’s a really thorough review that takes place,” Ryan said.
“We spend a lot of time slow-moing, going through all of them and making sure.
“We’re the first ones to come out and say they’re mistakes if they’re mistakes, because we need to try and educate what the rule is and what the outcome is.”
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson believes that it is time for full-time umpires within the AFL competition, noting that umpiring is ‘‘lagging behind’’ every other aspect of the AFL in terms of professionalism.
“I feel like there’s a role for full-time umpires, that we’d need to phase that in over a significant period of time,” Clarkson said.
Swans coach John Longmire has also been on the record with a similar stance over the years, hoping that one day umpires will able to have a full-time role in the industry.
“I think whatever you do the more time you spend working at your craft, you get better at it,” Longmire said.
“Certainly it’s a pretty important part of the game and it’s a pretty complicated game to umpire, hopefully more resources get thrown at it.”