Isaac Heeney looks on during the R17 match between Sydney and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on July 7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY star Isaac Heeney remains ineligible for this year's Brownlow Medal and will miss Saturday's clash against North Melbourne after his striking charge was upheld by the AFL Appeal Board on Thursday night. 

Heeney, who was one of the leading contenders to win the AFL's highest individual honour, was unsuccessful in downgrading his charge at the Tribunal on Tuesday night but took his case further in a last-ditch bid to avoid a one-match suspension. 

The Appeal Board took 25 minutes to uphold the charge in full, however, after 100 minutes of submissions in which Heeney attended but did not give further evidence on the incident, which saw him make high contact to St Kilda defender Jimmy Webster and leave him with a bloodied nose.


In a video released by the Swans after the hearing, Heeney said he was disappointed with the result but vowed to come back and 'do this club proud'.

"It's pretty shattering, to be honest," he said. "But I want to give a heartfelt thank you … for the support from the fans, members and the wider community. It's been truly incredible.

"Obviously I won't be on the footy field but I'll be there to support the boys and the coaching staff … and then obviously I want to flow on from that and make sure this year is a special one."

The Swans argued that Tuesday's finding was "so unreasonable that no Tribunal acting reasonably could come to that decision" and the classification of the offence was "manifestly excessive or inadequate". 

They specifically argued that new Match Review guidelines allowing a high push or fend off the ball to be deemed an intentional strike had been interpreted incorrectly by the Tribunal.

They built the case that Heeney's intent was assumed by the Tribunal, rather than accounting for the incident's unusual circumstances and exploring what he was trying to do when he swung his arm backwards in Webster's direction. 

They argued Heeney was engaged in a legitimate contest with Webster as he led towards teammate Justin McInerney and he could not reasonably have expected his opponent would stumble as the Swan attempted to swat his hand away.

The Swans also cited the case earlier this season which saw Brisbane forward Charlie Cameron successfully downgrade a charge based on his record and character over more than 200 games. 

Isaac Heeney in action during Sydney's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round 15, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Heeney has been fined twice but never suspended through a 193-game career with the Swans. 

AFL counsel Andrew Woods argued the Swans had not made valid legal points as to why the Tribunal's verdict should be overturned and that they simply disagreed with the introduction of the new provisions. 

Woods argued that it was clearly open to the Tribunal to deem Heeney's action a strike and highlighted that the Tribunal had dealt with the question of whether there was anything unusual about the case on Tuesday night and decided there was not when handing down its findings.  

"He clearly was struck in the face, Mr Heeney's intention doesn't really matter," Woods said. "It was a straightforward and unsurprising application of the guidelines." 


The case was dismissed on the grounds that the Tribunal had acted reasonably in coming to its decision on Tuesday night and taken into account all the evidence available in coming to its decision. 

"We're not here to decide the guilt or innocence of a player. We're here to oversee and review the decision of the Tribunal," Appeal Board chair Will Houghton said in handing down the finding. 

"It is enough if we find that there was evidence or material which made it open to the Tribunal to come to a finding of intentional conduct.

"We conclude that there was material before the Tribunal in which it was open to the Tribunal to give the finding of intentional finding. We therefore dismiss that ground of appeal.

"We do not consider that the Tribunal acted unreasonably or unjustly or unfairly."