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No names on jumpers, just numbers, says AFL

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Consistent amongst much of the feedback was that the player names were not visible enough to be truly effective
Darren Birch
THE AFL will not introduce player surnames as a permanent feature on guernseys, with the lack of space available on jumpers presenting "practical limitations".

Fans reacted positively to a round five trial of the concept, but the League has decided not to change the traditional look of AFL jumpers.

General manager of commercial operations Darren Birch said the concept was good in theory but the trial earlier this season highlighted hurdles in making it work.

"The unique cut of AFL guernseys restricts the size of lettering that can be used and this in turn limits the legibility of the player names for fans at the ground, and to a lesser extent, for those watching on television or via other media channels," Birch said.

"There is only limited space available on the back of match day guernseys for suitably sized names due to player numbers, club acronyms and sponsor logos.

"The trial demonstrated that while the concept of player names might be a good one in theory, in practice it does not work as well as we would like."

The AFL said fans had shown an appetite for the concept immediately following round five, but feedback from clubs and supporters since had been mixed.

He said some saw it as moving with the times while others believed the game should retain a traditional element.     

"Consistent amongst much of the feedback was that the player names were not visible enough to be truly effective,” he said.

Birch, who didn't rule out using names on jumpers from time to time, said there had to be compelling benefits to the fan experience to justify changing the overall look of AFL jumpers.

"The guernsey is such an integral part of our game’s heritage, particularly the iconic feature of player numbers as the standalone point of reference for identifying players," he said.