An AFL umpire being arrested on suspicion of being involved in a Brownlow Medal betting controversy is 'deeply unsettling', former official Dean Margetts says.
Field umpire Michael Pell was one of four men arrested and expected to be charged by the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit in relation to suspicious betting activity during the Brownlow Medal count.
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The AFL's legal counsel Andrew Dillon has insisted nothing untoward occurred with the actual distribution and counting of the votes, with Victoria Police's suspicion in relation to round-by-round betting during the count itself.
Pell was released after questioning on Monday, but is expected to be charged on summons in a turn of events Margetts said was likely to shock the wider AFL umpiring fraternity.
Speaking with SEN, Margetts likened the umpires' role of secrecy after allocating Brownlow votes after each game was akin to the movie 'Fight Club'.
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
“Unsettling is probably the biggest word that came to mind. It‘s something that in my 20 years as an AFL umpire I never experienced,” Margetts said.
“It’s a little bit like ‘Fight Club’. What’s the one rule of Fight Club guys? It’s that we never talk about Fight Club.
“That’s Brownlow Medal for us. We do our job and we treat it very seriously, but it’s one thing you never discuss. For this to come out, it’s a bit of a shock, and it’s probably unsettled 34 field umpires today as well.”
AFL field umpire implicated in Brownlow Medal betting probe
Fellow umpiring great Shane McInerney said he was dismayed by the accusations adding that it would be devastating for his colleagues.
McInerney, who was an AFL field umpire for a record 502 games, said they put great importance on their pivotal role in the Brownlow Medal.
"Shocked is one word - disappointed, in fact probably beyond that, it's actually devastating news," the two-time grand-final umpire told SEN.
"It's probably particularly devastating for the existing AFL umpiring list.
"Certainly in my time, the list greatly valued the integrity of the Brownlow Medal. They saw their responsibility ... as an absolute privilege.
"So to have this news come out yesterday, (it's) shocking."
The situation has prompted a debate about whether or not umpires are best placed to allocate votes, with Collingwood's Mason Cox suggesting their parallel duty of officiating the game made it difficult to keep a keen eye on the action.
He got backing from former St Kilda coach Grant Thomas, while former Carlton forward Brendan Fevola put this alleged incident down to a 'lone wolf' - though he too suggested umpires had an agenda in handing out votes.
“I never got any votes because they hated me. I kicked nine goals and didn’t get three votes, they’ve got an agenda," he told Fox Footy.
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