SEN host Gerard Whateley is “staggered” that Ray Chamberlain reportedly won’t be umpiring a Preliminary Final this weekend.
The Herald Sun is reporting that Chamberlain has been being dropped for the Preliminary Finals having officiated last week’s Semi-Final between Geelong and GWS.
Chamberlain, a polarising figure in the game, was also omitted for last year’s Preliminary Finals.
Whateley described Chamberlain as a “rare asset” that is “clearly undervalued” by the AFL following his reported finals axing.
“I’m staggered that Ray Chamberlain isn’t umpiring a Preliminary Final this weekend,” he told SEN’s Whateley.
“It makes me think that he’s judged on factors other than his actual umpiring. It makes me wonder if there are those within league headquarters that take fright that an umpire has become such a character in the game, completely missing the fact that he enriches it.
“Television broadcasts exploit his presence and enliven the product and your enjoyment of it. He’s a rich subject of debate and he’s a fair old subject of tension.
“Such umpires and referees in world sport have been treasured – cricket’s had Dickie Bird and Billy Bowden, the NRL was brilliantly served by Bill Harrigan for all those years, he was as recognisable as any of the players.
“Chamberlain is also the most accountable umpire that the game has. He publicly fronts up and he answers for his decisions – and in particular his mistakes. He makes the effort to explain the rules and the complexity of their implementation like no one else from the AFL.
“He’s a rare asset – clearly undervalued – and now for the second consecutive year underutilised.
“If he was the worst umpire on the weekend – so bad that he needed to be replaced – then I wasn’t watching.
“I think it’s a terrible pity.
“Put personalities to the side and just view it objectively, the most important games of the season will be the poorer for not having Ray Chamberlain umpiring out in the middle.”
Chamberlain has taken charge of over 30 finals and three Grand Finals across his 17-year umpiring career.
The 45-year-old officiated his 350th AFL game during the Round 21 match between St Kilda and Sydney.
West Australian Nathan Williamson is the other umpire who has reportedly been dropped.