AFL PLAYERS and even coaches could have the opportunity next year to officially challenge goal-umpiring decisions.
The year's final AFL Competition Committee meeting on Tuesday explored that possibility, which could have avoided the preliminary final controversy where Magpie Josh Thomas was incorrectly credited with a goal.
The machinations of how the system would work are still being figured out, but teams may receive up to three challenges per match for touched-off-the-boot calls only.
The topic will again be discussed at AFL Commission level in mid-December, with fan feedback also to be factored into the decision.
Currently, every goal is silently reviewed in the AFL Review Centre (ARC) regardless of whether an umpire requests one.
Part of the appeal of the challenge system to the AFL's general manager of football operations Steve Hocking was that score reviewers in the ARC wouldn't have as much pressure to make a quick decision.
Hocking said the average time spent on those reviews this year was 28 seconds.
"We could have taken over a minute (in the preliminary final review of Thomas' goal if a challenge system was in place)," he told reporters.
"Fans would have been really comfortable with that, because it's a player challenge and on top of that, it doesn't look like officialdom is intervening in the game."
CAL TWOMEY'S 2019 PHANTOM DRAFT Top 30, your club's whispers
Hocking emphatically stated the AFL was "satisfied" with the quality of technology being used for score-review decisions since the addition of the ARC.
"It's now whether or not the AFL continues to involve itself in that decision-making or whether clubs actually have the ability to do it," he said.
(But) with any of that, what we need to be mindful of is taking our time with it and not rush to where other sports are, where all of a sudden we're reviewing officiating as part of that as well.
"I think incremental change is really important. It's just conditioning the industry for that, whether it's one, two or three challenges is to be decided."
Among other talking points on the agenda were proposed changes to the pre-season structure, including a potential uniformed three-phase schedule across all 18 clubs.
The suggestion was the first phase from November 1 to the draft would be for first-to-fourth-year players only, then the whole group would come together post-draft up to the Christmas break.
The third and final phase would be an uninterrupted period into the Marsh Community Series.
West Coast football boss and Competition Committee member Craig Vozzo said: "There was some good merit in those discussions and I look forward to advancing them in the new year."
Hocking's plan is to lengthen the post-Christmas period from six weeks – which it will be for the first time in 2020 – to eight in the future.
Geelong superstar and AFL Players' Association president Patrick Dangerfield was supportive of the pre-season proposal, according to Hocking.
The AFL's game analysis team will now be known as the competition evolution team, with Hocking and co. believing enough on-field changes have been made for the time being.
YOUR CLUB'S DRAFT NEEDS What will it take to get to the top?
Rob Auld has been appointed to the new role of head of competition management and will be responsible for game analysis and evolution.
"There are only so many changes you can undertake before the game becomes too complex … for players, coaches and fans, in particular fans," Hocking said.
"There's less work to be done on-field and there's greater work to be done around the game.
"I'm talking pre-season, rotations – a whole host of things we could actually thread a line through, with where the game needs to go in the future."
The AFL will trial new runner rules in the pre-season, after vocal coach complaints about being restricted, but Hocking said they would not revert to what they were before this year's changes.