AFL matches will see an increase from three field umpires to four in 2023, with the aim of extending the careers of the game’s officials.
The Age’s Caroline Wilson revealed the league’s plan on Footy Classified on Wednesday and said their long-term view was to have five or six field umpires per game.
The decision means that the list of umpires will rise from 34 to 42, resulting in up to a half-a-million dollar increase in the umpire’s wage bill.
Wilson said the move is a way of bringing more female umpires into the game and that it would prolong the careers of some of the AFL’s most experienced officials such as Simon Meredith and Mathew Nicholls.
“I think the AFL commission and the executive has finally listened and realised this is a crisis in our game and they need to fix it,” she said.
“For the really fit and incredibly agile umpires it doesn’t make a huge difference to them, [but] it’s seen as a way to bring more women into umpiring.”
Former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said there would be a number of flow-on effects that positively impact the game.
“It would mean better decision-making because they’re [umpires] less fatigued and you can keep your better umpires umpiring [for longer]. Players adapt and there would be less holding,” he said,
“There will be more goals scored because the infringements would be blown [more often]. At either end, you won’t get away with anything.”
The removal of the centre bounce has also been spoken about as a potential change for next season, however a decision is yet to be made.
PHOTO: AFL umpires by Michael Coghlan available HERE and used under a Creative Commons license. This photo has not been modified.