Umpires speak with Hawthorn's Jack Gunston during the match against North Melbourne in R6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THE STANDARD of umpiring is as good as ever despite public criticism, AFL chief executive Andrew Dillon says.

Dillon has staunchly defended new umpires boss Steve McBurney and his cohort amid criticism of decisions influencing the outcome of several games this season.

The most recent development came on Monday night, with Essendon coach Brad Scott revealing the League had reached out to him after a series of contentious decisions in its loss to Geelong on Saturday night.

"I spend a lot of time with the umpires, talking to Steve McBurney who's heading it up, but also individual umpires," Dillon said in Adelaide as the AFL announced the dates for Gather Round next year.

"Our umpires, it's an incredibly tough game to umpire, but we've got elite decision-makers, they're elite athletes, but they continue to work their craft.

"All sports are really difficult to officiate, but I think our sport is one of the hardest ones.

"What our focus on is actually just preparing our umpires and making sure we get the processes right and continue to umpire as well as we can.

"It's as good as it's ever been, the umpiring.

"We're in the second year on the four-umpire system as well, so we're on a journey with the four-umpire system."

Elliot Yeo looks to the umpire after tackling George Wardlaw during the R13 match between West Coast and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on June 8, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Dillon said the recent focus on umpiring decisions was a by-product of the closeness of the competition.

"The competition is so tight," he said.

"I don't understand why, but there's always been a focus on umpiring - I'm pretty old and it has been around for as long as I've been around and will continue to be.

"But I think because the competition is so tight that maybe there is an increased focus on the umpires."

The AFL hierarchy has in some instances this season publicly admitted mistakes in the days following contentious calls, but Dillon said it won't become a weekly practice.

Patrick Cripps remonstrates with the umpire during Carlton's game against Geelong in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"What we said at the start of the year is that we're going to continue to be transparent, but we don't want to be up every Monday talking about umpiring decisions," Dillon said.

"If there are umpiring decisions at the end of games, and there's a real focus on them, then we're happy to be up.

"But what we really want to focus on is performance. We have got an incredible competition, we have got amazing football being played, so that's our focus.

"If there is a need to come out and talk to an umpire decision we will do that, but we're not going to be doing it every week ... hopefully we don't have to come out any weekend and do it."

Andrew Dillon at the Toyota AFL Open Launch at Marvel Stadium on June 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Some of the recent public criticism has followed a mid-season interpretation change to the holding-the-ball rule.

In May, the AFL directed umpires to shorten the 'reasonable time' component of the rule after a range of coaches expressed confusion at how the law was being implemented.

"If we see something that should be changed, then we'll change it," Dillon said.

"We don't want to be just holding on to something just for the sake of it."