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AFL announces Alastair Clarkson punishment following 'inappropriate' act

Alastair Clarkson was left fuming over Sunday's controversial bump that knocked out Jy Simpkin.

Alastair Clarkson has been hit with a $20,000 fine from the AFL for his "inappropriate" tirade towards St Kilda's Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard. Clarkson was left seething over Jimmy Webster's controversial bump on Jy Simpkin that left his player concussed during a practice match at Moorabbin.

Simpkin was knocked out and played no further part in the contest after the brutal incident. Emotions were understandably high considering Simpkin has a history of concussion-related issues, with this his third in the past nine months. The incident sparked a verbal assault from Clarkson at quarter-time, with the North coach later apologising for what he described as an "unnecessary" spray involving "inappropriate" language.

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has been slapped with a $20,000 fine from the AFL for his
North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has been slapped with a $20,000 fine from the AFL for his "inappropriate" foul-mouthed tirade at St Kilda players. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty

On Friday, Clarkson received a two-match suspension, suspended until the end of the 2025 season, after being found guilty of 'conduct unbecoming'. The Kangaroos coach allegedly used a homophobic slur. He has been accused of using the term "c***sucker" in his foul-mouthed spray. Following the AFL's investigation and as part of his sentence, the 55-year-old will be required to attend pride in sport training as approved by the AFL.

"Alastair's conduct does not represent behaviour acceptable to anyone in our game and not what is expected of a senior coach, especially someone of Alastair's experience," AFL general counsel Stephen Meade said in a statement.

"While we understand there are emotions attached to the heat of the contest, engaging with an opposition player during the quarter time break and then using language that is both unacceptable and highly inappropriate is something the AFL does not want in the game." The AFL said when determining Clarkson's sanction it took into account his apology and "acknowledgement that his conduct was inappropriate and unnecessary and his desire to seek help to develop strategies to manage his behaviour".

But it could still get worse for Clarkson if he has another outburst in the next two seasons. If he is again found guilty of "conduct unbecoming" before the end of the 2025 season, he will immediately be suspended for two matches, along with additional sanctions for the further breach.

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was fuming after Jimmy Webster's bump on his player, Jy Simpkin in an AFL practice match. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty
North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson was fuming after Jimmy Webster's bump on his player, Jy Simpkin in an AFL practice match. Pic: Fox Footy/Getty

AFL world divided over Alastair Clarkson sanction

Herald Sun's chief AFL reporter Mark Robinson said before the judgement was handed down that the game's bosses needed to come down hard on the North Melbourne coach and illustrate that such language and behaviour is unacceptable. “Just as community expectations demand a long suspension for Webster, amid the concussion debate, the community expectation is that you can’t call a person a c***sucker and not be sanctioned,” Robinson wrote.

“What a grubby line from an AFL coach. What if Webster is gay and Clarkson just outed him? And if he’s not gay, the inference is shocking. As a leader of our sport, it’s imperative that the AFL represents the community expectations.”

Robinson spoke passionately about the issue on AFL 360 and said if the game was serious about "inclusion and diversity", then Clarkson simply had to face serious consequences. “Clarkson might say it wasn’t homophobic, but it’s a homophobic word. If he made a racist comment, would the AFL come down heavy on him? Of course they would," he said. “What’s the difference on racist and homophobic language? The AFL cant preach inclusion and diversity and have one of its senior figures in the game slap that word onto a plater in the heat of the moment.

"It’s not an excuse in the heat of the moment, because if we start giving heat of the moment excuses to everyone, we’ll be forgiving everyone. I think he should be fined, others have told me today he should be suspended." AFL fans were divided by the sentence handed down with some angry that he avoided suspension, while others thought he should have got off altogether.

Alastair Clarkson admits to using 'inappropriate' language

Clarkson revealed that he had reached out to St Kilda coach Ross Lyon and the players involved to offer his apology over the foul-mouthed incident. The Kangaroos coach said he was "deeply disturbed" by the bump on Simpkin that saw Webster sent straight to the AFL tribunal, where he will likely be hit with a lengthy ban.

“I was deeply disturbed seeing our captain Jy Simpkin forced from the field as a result of a heavy collision just before quarter time,” Clarkson told 9News. “Jy has had a great pre-season and has now had three concussions in 12 months and I was so disappointed to see him leave the field in that way.

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“At the quarter-time break, I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter time huddle. This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary and the language I used was inappropriate. I have reached out to Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise."

The MRO graded Webster's bump as rough conduct that was careless, involved high contact and severe impact, meaning he will likely spend multiple weeks on the sidelines. Port Adelaide's Sam Powell-Pepper was recently hit with a four-week ban for a bump that concussed Adelaide’s Mark Keane, with most analysts agreeing that Webster's falls in a more severe category.

with AAP

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