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'Charter' to enshrine game's character

Mark Evans addresses the media during an announcment of the new appointment of the AFL Football Operations manager at AFL House in Melbourne(Photo:Sean Garnsworthy/AFL Media)
Football operations boss Mark Evans
HANDS off the scoring system. That is what some AFL clubs are telling League football operations manager Mark Evans.

The clubs have expressed their views to Evans as he begins a process to develop a charter for the Laws of the Game.

The topic arose as part of a much bigger discussion Evans has been having with club football departments and their leadership groups about features of the game that might become part of the proposed charter.

Click here to have your say on what should be included in the Laws of the Game Charter


Evans said the charter - an idea suggested earlier in the year by deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan when he was acting football operations manager - will be designed to enshrine those things that make Australian football "unique and exciting."

There is some urgency around its development, with the AFL hoping it will be completed in time to underpin any Laws of the Game Committee recommendations at the end of this season.

Club supporters will have the opportunity in the next few weeks to contribute their thoughts on what aspects of the game should be enshrined in the charter by completing a survey that will appear on AFL.com.au on Wednesday.

Evans said the question being asked of clubs and now supporters was straightforward: "What are things we historically want to hold onto and what are the things we want to adapt to make sure our game is still the most exciting game in the country?"

Midway through his current program of club visits that should be completed in the next fortnight, Evans has asked the question to club officials and leadership groups and been heartened by the discussion.

He said some examples of aspects of the game clubs suggested enshrining were:

-       The oval ball shape which made its trajectory and bounce random;
-       The ability for a player to be unrestricted as to where they go on the field;
-       For no restriction to be placed on which direction the ball can be moved; and
-       For the current scoring system to be retained.

The current scoring system has been a recent topic of discussion, with AFL legend Leigh Matthews suggesting that maybe a goal should be awarded even if it shaves the post on the way through.

There has also been the occasional call for goals kicked from outside 50m should be worth nine points, as happens in the pre-season competition.

Depending on the survey results and continued feedback from clubs, the proposed charter will establish the prevailing view on such important features of the game.

"It [the charter] is an important document and the challenge is make sure we accurately identify what it is that the fans, the footy experts, the coaches and the players would like to see in it," Evans said.

With the proposed charter intended as a guiding document for Laws of the Game Committee decisions, Evans said it needed to be both a constitutional-type document and a working document.

Once the data gathered is assessed and analysed, a draft charter will be circulated for comment late in the season before a final version is recommended for AFL Commission approval.

Evans said there should be facility for such a charter to be reviewed, but given that it was designed to enshrine particular aspects of the game, that process needed to be formal and at reasonable intervals.

While Evans did not anticipate the charter quelling any discussion about the myriad issues that consume the fans and media on a weekly basis, he said it would ensure the game retains those elements many hold dear and would incorporate the fan's views.

"What would we like enshrined?" Evans asked rhetorically. "What makes our code exciting and uniquely Australian [while] recognising things change over time. What do we want to preserve?"