Former AFL umpire Dean Margetts is fearing a “ripple effect” on whistleblowers around the county amid the fallout from the Brownlow betting scandal now engulfing the league.
Four men from Melbourne, including AFL umpire Michael Pell, were arrested on Monday after suspicious betting patterns on the Brownlow Medal were flagged with the league’s integrity department.
The AFL said there was no suggestion the breach influenced the result of the count, won by Carlton’s Patrick Cripps, and the charges related to the spread of information.
Pell, in his first season as a senior AFL umpire, officiated in and helped cast votes for 16 matches during the 2022 season.
Detectives seized mobile phones and electronic items while arresting the four men after being alerted by suspicious betting activity. They are in custody and are assisting police with the ongoing investigations.
Those offences carry a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.
Margetts, who umpired 377 AFL games while based in Perth between 2002-2021, said the fallout could have wide-ranging implications for more than just the umpire involved given the already existing negativity thrown their way by most football fans.
“He will feel, like, on an island,” he told Triple M in Perth.
“He knows that it’s not just his own individual circumstances but the ripple effect it’s gonna have, not just for the AFL footy umpires, but I’m talking state level, country, juniors, it’s gonna have a ripple effect right through.
“Umpiring is always probably always (seen) in a negative light because that’s just the nature of our business, so we don’t need much of a leg-up to get some criticism, so that’s what hurts the most.
“We worked really hard with the stop-the-abuse campaign we’ve had done by the footy commission this year, and this just gives everyone else another free whack and that’s what disappoints me the most.”
The scandal has led to calls for Brownlow voting to be taken away from umpires, but Margetts disputes that notion.
“I still honestly believe the umpires are in the best position to make the award for the Brownlow,” he said to Lachy Reid, filling in for Xavier Ellis.
“That’s what makes it sacrosanct. It’s the umpire’s award … and that’s what makes it special.”
But Brisbane Lions captain Dayne Zorko said maybe it was time to give the job of casting votes to someone else.
“It used to be just one umpire and they’d make their call after the game. Now there’s three (field umpires) and next year there’s going to be four by the sounds of things,” he told SEN.
“(Umpires are trying to watch) everything that goes on with the game, rule changes, decisions in the moment and they’re all in different thirds of the ground, so you’re not actually seeing who is the most influential the whole time in my opinion.
“I agree, I’d give it (Brownlow voting) to someone who has been watching the game and sitting up high and understands what’s happened throughout the whole game and decide from there.”
Story Credit: news.com.au