Matthews renews call for AFL red card

Callum Godde and Roger Vaughan

AFL legend Leigh Matthews has renewed his call for a red card re-think in the wake of Andrew Gaff's hit on Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw.

But the only player in AFL history to face police action for an on-field incident stopped short of suggesting that the West Coast star should face criminal charges.

Matthews was deregistered for four weeks in 1985 after the Hawthorn great broke the jaw of Geelong opponent Neville Bruns.

Matthews was also fined $1000 and convicted of assault, but it was overturned on appeal.

Gaff was referred to the AFL tribunal for the punch that broke the jaw of Brayshaw.

The Gaff incident also sparked calls for police action, prompting a statement from WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson.

Matthews said Gaff deserves a "significant suspension" of six to seven weeks.

But he said there is "no need" to involve police, despite acknowledging the situations are similar.

"(In) footy back then ... you're almost putting yourself into a war without weapons," Matthews told Macquarie Sports Radio on Monday.

"But 30 years later I think to myself ... the option should be available because you're not outside the law of the land."

The four-time premiership coach with Collingwood and Brisbane believes a red card would have been a more appropriate punishment for Gaff.

"This is the (second) incident this year ... where the send-off rule should have applied," Matthews said, noting GWS forward Jeremy Cameron's stray elbow on Brisbane's Harris Andrews.

"I hope the AFL, behind the scenes, are asking themselves the question.

"Brayshaw's lost to Fremantle, therefore Gaff should be lost to the Eagles."

Brayshaw is out for the remainder of the season and will not be able to eat solids for the next four weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken jaw and three displaced teeth.

But Matthews said Gaff would likely sustain greater long-term damage than the victim.

"The guilt and the shame will live with Andrew Gaff for the rest of his life," he said.

AFL match reviewer Michael Christian said late on Monday that it was up to the league's executive to decide if a send-off rule is necessary.