Buckley slams AFL over Johnson ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Buckley slams AFL over Johnson ban

By Sam Lienert 20/08/2007 08:34:45 PM Comments (0)

Collingwood captain Nathan Buckley has accused the AFL's match review panel of inconsistency, after midfielder Ben Johnson was hit with a suspension of up to eight matches.

St Kilda tagger Steven Baker also faces a potentially long ban, after an AFL investigation led to him being charged with rough conduct against Fremantle's Jeff Farmer's for an off-the-ball incident not captured on camera.

While Baker's case has been referred directly to the tribunal for determination, Johnson can accept a six-match ban by submitting an early guilty plea, which earns a 25 per cent reduction.

It would still rule him out for the rest of the season, even if Collingwood reaches the grand final.

The Magpie's front-on bump on Melbourne's Daniel Bell, which resulted in the Demons player being stretchered from the MCG on Friday night, was deemed as reckless conduct, high contact, with severe impact.

That equated to a level five offence, worth 750 demerit points, which, combined with 70.31 points Johnson had hanging over from a previous sanction, lifted the total above the 800-mark, meaning an eight-match ban.

While the Magpies will wait until Tuesday to decide whether to fight the charge, Buckley criticised the panel's assessment.

He said it did not stack up alongside their assessment of another incident involving Brisbane's Jason Roe, who faces the same charge - of making forceful front-on contact - against Sydney's Luke Brennan at the Gabba on Saturday night.

Roe's bump on Brennan was assessed as negligent conduct, high contact, at medium impact, equating to a level two offence, drawing 250 demerit points.

That means Roe faces a two-match suspension, reduced to one if he chooses to plead guilty.

"I'm amazed they would say that Johnno's is severe (impact), while Jason Roe's is only medium, I would say the impact from Jason Roe's is more severe," Buckley told Melbourne's SEN radio.

"Without even knowing what the club's going to do, you (are not allowed to) compare (cases), which is a joke, I would have thought Jason Roe and Brennan's impact was more severe than Johnno's and Bell's."

Buckley backed the panel's rating of Johnson's conduct as reckless, and contact as high, and acknowledged a significant penalty was warranted.

"Johnno deserves a whack, he deserves a whack for it, he understands it, we all understand it as football lovers, that players need to be protected with their head over the ball."

Bell has sustained no serious injury and the Demons say he is a chance to play against Fremantle on Saturday.

But Buckley said Johnson felt ill when he saw him taken from the field in a neck brace.

"He felt sick in the guts, he reckons he was the closest he's ever been to throwing up on the footy field, because he was concerned about the player and he was concerned about the repercussions also," he said.

Meanwhile, Buckley said Baker's penalty should be even more severe, if he was found to have hit Farmer behind play.

"Whatever happened to Jeff Farmer, I would say that is two or three times worse than what Ben Johnson did," he said.

"What Ben Johnson did was in the act of playing the game of footy.

"If there's king-hits or anything that happens off the play and behind the play I would expect that would have a greater loading than even an incident like this."

However, he noted he did not know what actually happened between Baker and Farmer.

"But I think we would all fundamentally say if someone got felled behind play that action is just about as bad an action as you can get in a game of footy," he said.

Farmer was severely concussed during the third term of Saturday's Telstra Dome clash with the Saints.

The incident occurred well off the ball, with Baker the only other player in the vicinity.

The charge was laid following an investigation by AFL investigations officer Graeme McDonald, with the hearing expected to occur on Tuesday night.

Port Adelaide's Daniel Motlop and Hawthorn's Luke Hodge face fines for allegedly wrestling each other, while Geelong's Darren Milburn faces a fine for throwing his mouthguard at the Kangaroos' Shannon Grant.

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