Kirk escapes AFL suspension, but fined - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kirk escapes AFL suspension, but fined

07/04/2009 07:01:25 PM Comments (0)

Sydney co-captain Brett Kirk escaped suspension at the AFL tribunal, but Sydney still want answers over the league's crackdown on umpire contact.

Kirk pleaded guilty at the tribunal on Tuesday night to a charge of making reckless contact with field umpire Matthew James during the win over Hawthorn on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium.

Under tribunal rules, the match review panel referred the case directly to the tribunal.

It was also a test case under an AFL crackdown on players making contact with field umpires at centre or field bounces.

The league has become increasingly concerned about the safety of umpires as they back away from bouncing the ball.

The tribunal jury had discretion over what penalty Kirk faced and he could not enter an early plea.

But it was revealed at the start of his hearing that the match review panel had recommended that his penalty should be 125 demerit points - a one-match suspension - and a $1950 fine.

The tribunal jury took less than five minutes to rule that should be the penalty imposed.

Kirk's guilty plea reduced the sanction by 25 per cent to 93.75 points, just under the 100 threshold for a one-game ban, and a $1950 fine.

Kirk's advocate, Terry Forrest QC, argued there were mitigating circumstances in the incident.

Forrest argued that Kirk's opponent Sam Mitchell was standing directly behind James at the field bounce and the Swan midfielder had no choice but to move in front of him.

Forrest said that Mitchell "stood his ground" and Kirk then made contact with James.

Earlier on Tuesday, Swans coach Paul Roos said he wanted some explanations about aspects of the stricter interpretation, announced two days before the start of the season.

"We will definitely be seeking some clarification on the rules tomorrow after the tribunal has made its decision," Roos said.

"The difficulty at the moment is that I can't coach them until I get clarification ... the point being the rules as they are written are quite grey so I guess that is our surprise ... we need to get some clarification.

"Brett has already asked me: `If I am in that position again, what do I do?'

"But I have had to say to him I have no idea, and until a ruling is made at the tribunal ... we can hopefully become clear and give the players some guidelines."

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