New AFL general manager of football Brad Scott believes the game has a “looming crisis” on its hands with the way umpires are perceived by the footy community.
Scott was appointed to Steve Hocking's old role on Thursday in a wide restructure of AFL operations, with Laura Kane also brought in from North Melbourne to oversee competition management.
Umpiring is one of the portfolios the former Roos coach will now oversee, and the 45-year old believes the league has “a fair bit of work to do” to overcome the problems associated.
“The game as grassroots is growing really strongly, and umpire numbers are growing but they’re not growing at a fast enough rate to keep up with participation,” Scott told Sportsday
“When we look at it through that lens, we’ve got a bit of an emergency.”
He put the issue down to the poor way umpires are treated at the elite level.
“As an industry, we’ve got to change our view on umpiring, it’s something we need to create pathways so young boys and girls see it as an occupation, something they can do,” Scott said.
“We’re going to have a looming crisis unless we attract more umpires to the game and a big part of attracting umpires to the game is the way they’re perceived at the elite level.”
It’s no secret AFL is an incredibly tough game to umpire, a reason Scott believes should do the whistle blowers justice in a lot of their decision making.
“We always put a lens over it that AFL footy is the hardest game to adjudicate in the whole world, when you’ve got a game where a decision can be a 'push in the back' or a 'holding the ball' and both be right at the same time, we all know how challenging that is,” he said.
“There’s a fair bit of work to do there.”
The new GM of football at AFL house was previously fined $30,000 in 2016 when he accused the umpires of bias as North Melbourne’s coach of the time.
The AFL recently took a stand on disrespectful behaviour towards officials by challenging Toby Greene’s three-match suspension he received for bumping umpire Matt Stevic.