AFL umpire Michael Pell has been named as one of four men arrested in Melbourne in relation to a Brownlow Medal betting scandal which has left the league in shock.
Pell was confirmed by The Age to be among four men expected to be charged after a series of suspicious bets during the Brownlow Medal count in October were flagged by betting operators.
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After a pattern of bets was flagged by one of the AFL's betting partners, a subsequent investigation involving multiple betting agencies reportedly discovered irregularities relating to who would be awarded three Brownlow votes in a series of specific games.
The AFL does not believe the actual dispersal or counting of Brownlow votes was compromised, with Carlton's Patrick Cripps winning the award in 2022.
Round by round betting on the Brownlow Medal, which does not open until the conclusion of the home and away season, is at the centre of the investigation, according to a statement from the AFL.
Pell, a field umpire, is responsible for submitting Brownlow votes at the conclusion of each game, and Victoria Police will allege someone with knowledge of the votes gave information to others in the group in order for them to place bets - some of which ranged in the thousands of dollars.
An experienced umpire who has officiated VFL and AFLW grand finals, Pell was in his first full season as an AFL field umpire.
Victoria Police detectives from its Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit arrested and interviewed four men on Monday over dubious betting activity connected to this season's medal count.
"In the days following the 2022 Brownlow Medal count, the AFL was made aware of potential suspicious activity by one of our betting agency partners and the AFL Integrity unit immediately gathered further information," the AFL's General Counsel Andrew Dillon said in a statement.
Victoria Police investigating AFL umpire in betting scandal
Police are investigating how many matches may have had votes released and exactly how much money was awarded from the bets.
At this stage, authorities have no information to suggest the outcome of the votes were impacted.
"The allegations relate solely to the leaking or improper communication of the 3, 2, 1 voting outcomes of some specific matches during the season," Mr Dillon said.
"Post-game, the Brownlow votes are sealed and stored in a secure off-site location and not opened until they are delivered on stage on Brownlow night. The sealed vote cards are audited throughout the season by KPMG."
The AFL has released a statement relating to an investigation into suspicious betting activity linked to round-by-round betting on this year’s Brownlow Medal count. https://t.co/jvyISyYznq
— AFL (@AFL) November 14, 2022
Detectives executed warrants on Monday at homes in Glenroy, Kilsyth, Oak Park, Drouin, Craigieburn and Doreen, seizing several mobile phones and electronic items.
The offences carry up to 10 years imprisonment.
"Victorians are well known for their love of AFL and in particular, the prestigious Brownlow Medal award, but equally they want to know that there is integrity, fairness and honesty behind this award," Commander Deb Robertson said in a statement.
Sport Integrity Australia confirmed it was supporting Victoria Police and the AFL in the inquiry, but did not comment further.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit the website www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
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