The AFL's push for full-time umpires isn't necessarily best for umpires
THE AFL Umpires Association is considering a proposal to introduce full-time field umpires by 2014, but has some serious reservations, AFLUA chief executive Peter Howe says.
Howe told SEN radio on Monday the AFLUA had agreed with the AFL to continue discussions on the proposal, following a concerted push by AFL clubs and coaches for full-time umpires.
But Howe said the AFLUA was concerned about what going full-time would mean for umpires who would be forced to give up lucrative careers outside football.
"We are at the early stages of all of this … we'd need to be sure that our members were going to be looked after," Howe said.
"As you say, it's a tough one in terms of guys giving up already established careers coming into football and then trying to re-establish themselves down the track at some stage.
"Like players there's no guaranteed tenure in the position, it's all around performance and if you give up an established career for just a couple of years it could land the guys in all sorts of trouble."
The push for full-time field umpires has been principally based on the belief it will lead to a better standard of umpiring.
But Howe said it was unclear whether introducing full-time field umpires would lead to a significant improvement in decision-making.
"That's the big unknown. That's why we're prepared to enter into the discussion," Howe said.
"There is a school of thought that, gee, what do you do during the week?
"Umpiring can be quite a negative environment, so it will be up to the AFL and umpiring department to really get down and develop a program to make sure that the guys are actually improving their ability to make decisions.
"Already the umpiring department indicated that the guys are averaging about 84-86 per cent decisional accuracy. How good are they going to get if they make the guys full-time? That's one of the questions."
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs