Umpire Stephen McBurney ahead of his 400th AFL match in 2013. Picture: AFL Photos

FOUR-time Grand Final umpire Stephen McBurney will rejoin the AFL as the new head of officiating, 10 years after calling time on his decorated career as an on-field whistleblower.

McBurney, who umpired 401 games from 1995 to 2013, will oversee the AFL's umpiring department as well as the ARC score review system.

The 56-year-old will also manage the AFL's umpire development pathways from elite AFL and AFLW level officiating, to the pathway under-18 programs while also staying connected to community umpiring.

St Kilda players remonstrate with umpire Stephen McBurney during a match in 2006. Picture: AFL Photos

McBurney umpired four Grand Finals (2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009) and was the All-Australian umpire in 2003 and 2007. He is one of nine umpires in VFL/AFL history to officiate in more than 400 games.

Away from football, McBurney is a vastly experienced lawyer and administrator, having worked in senior roles at Commonwealth and state level, including as the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner from 2018-2023.

"Stephen has an immense amount of elite umpiring experience and coupled with a broad skillset and management experience from also working outside the industry, means he will be well placed to lead and drive a strong high-performance culture," AFL Executive General Manager of Football Laura Kane said.

Umpire Stephen McBurney during a match in Perth in 2002. Picture: AFL Photos

"He will have focus on developing, recruiting and supporting our elite umpire cohort and with his strong background in women's umpiring will work closely with Lisa Lawry supporting the delivery of the Women & Girls Action Plan across the umpiring department."

McBurney will report to AFL General Manager of Football Operations Josh Mahoney, and will begin his new role at the end of April.