PLAYERS who join melees at quarter breaks will face tougher punishments in 2020 as part of a host of minor tweaks the AFL has made to its Match Review and Tribunal processes.

The League wrote to all clubs on Wednesday, advising them of minor AFL Commission recommendations that will include harsher penalties for players escalating melees.

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It is hoped that the change will stop the growing number of all-in scuffles at quarter, half and three-quarter time breaks across the competition.

Port Adelaide and Sydney players engage in a melee during their round 21 clash. Picture: AFL Photos

Stricter punishments – likely higher financial sanctions – for third and subsequent players entering melees will also be included in the list of Match Review changes.

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Further changes to the Match Review and Tribunal systems include:

  • The Match Review Officer will now classify all intentional, off-the-ball and high-contact strikes as one notch higher on the grading scale from next season to ensure offenders are adequately punished.
  • A 24-hour turnaround for all verdicts across a weekend, as opposed to just for Thursday and Friday night matches – as was the case in 2019.
  • The Tribunal chairperson will now provide clubs with a verbal explanation as to why challenges and referrals have either succeeded or failed.
  • Tribunal challenges for financial sanctions will be simplified, with only a single legally trained Jury member to adjudicate on matters on the basis of a written submission only.
  • There will be strengthened guidelines for repeat offenders, meaning they could be referred directly to the Tribunal to disincentivise further offences.
  • Gradings for incidents that have the potential to cause serious injury will be clarified to include when the player is not expecting or prepared for contact.
  • 'Tripping' will be added as a fixed financial sanction, meaning the Match Review Officer can fine players who trip without causing negligible impact.