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No more demerit points as AFL aims for simpler MRP

Roughead handed one week, Johnson cleared Callum Twomey and Nathan Schmook discuss the round 20 MRP findings
Jarryd Roughead of the Hawks kicks during the 2014 AFL Round 20 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Melbourne Demons at the MCG, Melbourne on August 09, 2014. (Photo: Justine Walker/AFL Media)
Jarryd Roughead served a one-match band for tripping Melbourne's Dom Tyson in round 20 last season
Getting rid of carryover points and percentage loading helps incidents to be assessed on the merit of that particular event
AFL football operations manager Mark Evans
THE AFL has scrapped demerit points as part of a major overhaul of the Match Review Panel.

After running the revamped MRP in shadow for the past two seasons, football operations manager Mark Evans had the new process ticked off by the AFL Commission last Friday.

The AFL has delivered on its promise to simplify the existing MRP, which has come under fire for inconsistent and sometimes confusing results.

Demerit points have been binned, which means carryover points hanging over players' heads from previous suspensions have also been eliminated.

Also, players can be sanctioned in three distinct ways by the new MRP.

Lower-level incidents such as tripping or a jumper-punch will attract fines, increasing in value for the first three offences in the same season.

Any player who commits three low-level offences in the same season will automatically be banned for one match.

More serious offences can be punished with either two or three-week suspensions – which can be reduced by one week by an early guilty plea.

The most severe incidents, or any offences where the MRP is not satisfied with the resultant penalty after it has been graded, can be sent directly to the AFL Tribunal.

Gradings have also been tweaked, with incidents now graded careless – which merges the negligent and reckless categories – or intentional.

The impact (low, medium, high, severe) and contact (body, high/groin) of the incident will then lead to a fine, suspension or Tribunal hearing.

Other changes include:

- The MRP now has the ability to grade higher impact if an incident has more potential to cause injury, such as high bumps.
- A week's additional suspension for bad record, where players have been suspended for two matches in the previous 24 months.
- The removal of automatic good record, although players with exemplary records can apply to the Tribunal to argue exceptional and compelling circumstances.
- Only suspended players will be ineligible for the Brownlow Medal
- Removal of double penalties covering all Grand Final incidents. This will remain for serious events, but lower-end offences will be processed normally.

Speaking to AFL.com.au, Mark Evans said the revised MRP would see more incidents assessed on their merits.

"We've worked hard to deliver a system that was going to be simpler and deliver more appropriate outcomes," Evans said.

"So getting rid of carryover points and percentage loading helps incidents to be assessed on the merit of that particular event.

"Given the way we now scrutinise the game with multiple angles and the Match Review Panel, we thought it was more appropriate to treat those (minor incidents) as financial sanctions while still retaining the ability to send bigger incidents directly to the Tribunal or to upgrade them to more serious suspensions.

"I think fans will regard the system as simpler. I'm sure there will still be debate around comparing certain incidents from games or the way it's been graded.

"But it won't be about the system itself and the complexities of the system, so we see that as a real positive."

The revised MRP is set to see many more fines, but fewer suspensions for lower-level incidents – such as Hawthorn forward Jarryd Roughead's trip on Melbourne's Dom Tyson in round 20 last season.

Roughead copped a one-match ban for the incident, which attracted 80 demerit points, because he already had 65 carryover points to his name from a previous suspension for a high bump on Sydney Swan Ben McGlynn in round eight.

Under the new system, Roughead would have only been fined for the tripping offence.

He would also still be free to commit two more low-level offences for the season before copping a one-match ban.

However, Roughead will have to toe a fine line next season because his two suspensions from last year will still count towards his bad record under the new system.