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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

The AFL has announced a major overhaul to the Tribunal and Match Review Panel (MRP) system which will see minor infractions incurring fines rather than demerit points and mandatory suspensions for 100 or more demerits. AFL General Manager Mark Evans said the Commission had approved a number of changes to the system, designed largely to simplify the understanding of the game’s judiciary process. Carry over demerit points will also be abandoned.

Evans said the AFL had been examining a revised MRP system throughout 2014 in tandem with the previous system used since the 2005. The revamped system was presented to and approved by the Commission. All clubs were notified of the changes while attending the National Draft on the Gold Coast.

The key changes are:
All offenses will be categorized as fines or weeks of suspension, no longer using any reference to base demerit points.
Carry over points have been eliminated.
Conduct will now be graded in two categories only - intentional or careless.
The MRP will issue fines and two and three game suspensions, with more serious offenses to be referred to the Tribunal.
Simplification of the Bad Record provisions, with a maximum addition of a one extra week’s suspension on a penalty.
Retention of discounts for early pleas (lowering of fines or one match suspension reduction), but removal of automatic good record provision.
Brownlow Medal eligibility to be based around whether a player was suspended or not suspended for a match in any particular season.
Introduction of fines for low level offenses, but with suspensions available to repeat third-offenders within a season.
The MRP retains the capacity to upgrade impact where there is the potential to cause injury.

Evans said the focus had been to retain "the excellent parts of the system while simplifying its operation and ensuring that appropriate penalties are in place ". He continued “It is a strength of the MRP ... that players are able to accept a discount for pleading guilty ... but we did not want to continue to see players missing matches for low-level offenses due to carry over points and poor records. It was also extremely confusing for fans to understand how a verdict was reached under the points system, so the primary changes have been based around a simplified record and plea process, with an easier to understand table of offenses and categories.”

Evans further explained that players would continue to receive discounts on fines for pleading guilty while an early plea to an offense involving a suspension would mean a one game discount. A player will now only qualify for a bad record if he has been suspended for two matches within the last two calendar years and an additional one match suspension will be the maximum penalty for a bad record.

Source: Patrick Keane, AFL Media Release

Article last changed on Thursday, December 04, 2014 - 8:39 AM EST

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