'I don't agree': AFL boss hits back at 'terrible spectacle' barbs

Gillon McLachlan doesn't share Alastair Clarkson's sentiments about the modern game. Pic: Getty

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan says holding the ball interpretations need fixing after Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson's brutal criticism of the modern game.

The four-time premiership coach launched an extraordinary attack on how the AFL is played in 2020 after the Hawks' four-point victory over North Melbourne.

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Clarkson pleaded for changes to fix the game, which he says is in a "dreadful space" after his side was involved in a "terrible spectacle" at Marvel Stadium on Sunday night.

"The umps are doing what they're told to do, what's coaching got to do with it?" Clarkson said.

"We teach our players to tackle and if a player doesn't dispose of the ball correctly then the rule book says to blow the whistle and play a free kick.

The AFL's longest-serving active coach believes umpires need directives from the AFL to reward good tackling.

Clarkson was at a loss to explain how his team laid 69 tackles against the Roos and didn't receive a single tackle-specific free kick.

"What's happened to our game? You can't have that many tackles and not one of them be incorrect disposal," the coach continued.

"You wonder why the game is an arm wrestle and that you can't get any open footy.

"Tonight's game ... if that's the spectacle that we're trying to search for in our game, then our game's in a dreadful space."

Clarkson urged the AFL to move away from its desire to protect the player making a bid for the ball rather than reward the tackler.

"I'm sorry for shit-canning our own brand, and our own club and our own team in this space," he said.

"But I was so disappointed in the way we played and I was so disappointed with the way that the game is being played right at the present time.

"It's frustrating, and it must be frustrating our fans."

McLachlan said he would be speaking to the AFL's football operations boss Steve Hocking this week about a number of things related to the increasingly complicated COVID-19 affected 2020 season.

Geelong coach Chris Scott says reducing teams from 18 to 16 players would improve the game as a spectacle. Pic: Getty

AFL boss says game has not lost its way

"I haven't spoken to 'Clarko'. I don't agree with Clarko on the state of the game; there were some cracking games on the weekend and some average - that's sport," McLachlan told reporters on Monday.

"I do agree with him to an extent on holding the ball.

"You need prior opportunity. You can't have guys taking the ball and not having prior opportunity.

"Our players these days are so skilled and so quick, they can take the ball and assess the option so quickly and if they don't like it they'll take the tackle.

"Well, they've had the prior and they should be pinged. I think we need to be tougher on holding the ball."

Geelong coach Chris Scott was another high-profile figure to question how the modern game looks after the Cats defeated Melbourne in a low-scoring scrap on Sunday.

"I don't think anyone watching the game would think they're two teams that are just going to dominate the competition," he said.

Scott, after his side's three-point win over Melbourne, said that reducing teams from 18 to 16 players on the field would clearly reduce congestion.

with Yahoo Sports staff