Robert Findlay holds the ball up in his 300th game during Richmond's clash against Hawthorn in round 22, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL has introduced a fourth umpire for the 2023 season, years after trialling the addition of another official.

The League ran trials with a fourth field umpire in 2015, but decided against introducing the extra official permanently.

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But this season will see an extra umpire for every game, with the AFL hoping it will improve decisions while reducing the physical demands on officials.  

"The fourth umpire will optimise decision making, allowing umpires to be in better positions to adjudicate a contest – whether they are stoppages through the midfield or marking contests at either end of the ground," AFL head of umpiring Dan Richardson said.

"Having two umpires at stoppages also acts as a strong deterrent to off-the-ball players from engaging in undisciplined play. Umpires will also be able to manage off-ball situations more effectively.

An umpire bounces the ball before Carlton's match against Geelong in 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"We have conducted more than 600 club visits over the pre-season seeking significant feedback from club coaching staff and players around the positioning of the four umpires and their movement patterns.

"We thank the clubs for their input and feel we are well prepared as we head into the 2023 season."

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Last year, the League launched a crackdown on umpire abuse from players and club staff, looking to stamp out disrespect towards officials amid an umpire shortage at community football level.

The AFL is also hoping the introduction of another official will accelerate the development of umpires.

"With the reduction in physical demands and adding more positions to our umpiring team this will strengthen our work in performance, growth, and development of umpiring pathways – ensuring a strong, diverse and appealing pathway from community through to the elite level," AFL general manager of umpiring Lisa Lawry said.