Adam Cooney says fans are deserting the AFL because they’re sick of stupid rules and calls

Brownlow winner Adam Cooney says fans are deserting the AFL because they’re sick to death of stupid rules and umps’ calls – like this DISGRACEFUL free against Lachie Neale

  • Neale gave away a free kick for a mild bit of push and shove with a Hawks player
  • Cooney was an AFL enforcer and said calls like that are driving away fans
  • It comes after a ridiculous series of calls against Sydney’s Chad Warner
  • A chorus of former players, analysts and fans have slammed both the decisions 

Former Bulldogs enforcer Adam Cooney was no stranger to the tough stuff in his playing career and now the Brownlow Medalist has slammed the AFL for scaring off fans with increasingly soft rules and umpiring calls.

Crowds have been down in 2022 and Cooney said a recent spate of ridiculous decisions like the widely slammed free kick awarded against Lachie Neale in Sunday’s Hawthorn vs Brisbane match are driving fans away from the game.

‘Forget Covid, people aren’t going to the footy because the rules have been tweaked to a point that it’s turning fans away from the game. Some of the free kicks & 50m paid are so frustrating. It’s also filtering down to community levels with umpiring,’ Cooney posted on Twitter.

Lachie Neale clashed with Jai Newcombe near the boundary just over a minute into the first quarter of the Lions AFL clash with Hawthorn on Sunday.

Both players shoved each other in the chest – something that has happened in practically every Aussie Rules game ever played – but the umpire blew the whistle and awarded the free kick to the Hawks midfielder.

You would see heavier contact in AusKick practice at your local primary school.

The  push from Neale that resulted in a free kick going the way of Hawthorn

Fans were quick to vent their spleen on social media.

‘Not a Lions fan, but that decision was absolutely ridiculous and the Hawks player did it four times before Lachie Neale retaliated which makes this far worse. It resulted in a charity goal that cost the Lions the match. This umpire must be dropped for next week. Please explain AFL,’ Tweeted one AFL fan.

Another posted: ‘This was clearly an even up for the ridiculous free against Tom Mitchell just before this incident.’ 

Former Port Adelaide champion and current AFL analyst Kane Cornes agreed, saying on SEN he didn’t want to see decisions like that on the big stage.

‘We cannot have a situation where we have a grand final decided by a decision like the one paid against Lachie Neale yesterday [pushing Jai Newcombe in the chest],’ he said. 

The Neale decision was a ridiculous interpretation of the rules, but in the case of Sydney Swans’ Chad Warner the umpires got it completely wrong.

Warner burst clear of the Carlton inside-50 on Friday night and streaked downfield, bouncing the ball as per AFL rules. However, the official blew a free kick against him anyway, likely because he missed the bounce.

An exasperated Warner threw his arms out and said words to the effect of ‘but I did bounce it’ and immediately surrendered a 50-metre penalty as a result.   

It was a double whammy for confused Sydney Swans player Chad Warner against Carlton

It was a double whammy for confused Sydney Swans player Chad Warner against Carlton

Fox Footy presenter and former North Melbourne hard man David King slammed the decision to rub salt in the wounds and issue a 50-metre penalty for dissent on top of an obviously wrong umpiring decision.

‘Ok. For the 100th time – THIS IS NOT DISSENT!!! Get a thicker skin if this offends you …..or a new job. I challenge the hierarchy to change this immediately……it ain’t right,’ he tweeted.

Fox Footy’s Jon Ralph said the decision was ridiculous when you consider how many incidents where players throw their arms out are not earning a whistle from the officials.

‘So many hands out complaints that get missed. Which is fine because they aren’t real dissent. Then the Chad Warner one gets picked out on Friday night when he had taken a bounce and hadn’t run too far,’ he said.

There was plenty of outrage from the fans as well, with one tweeting that the dissent crackdown was actually having the opposite effect than intended.

‘Genuinely think the umpire was unsighted and didn’t see the bounce but should have checked with closer umpires before making the call. No person on this planet would not have protested against the call. AFL is putting umpires more in the spotlight now not less,’ they tweeted.

Another wrote: ‘Many hands out getting ignored weekly and then they pluck the odd one out & wonder why the fans are fuming with the rule.’

One fan had a suggestion for all AFL fans left outraged by the decisions made against Neale and Warner on the weekend.

‘Here’s a suggestion. Everyone needs to get in contact with Brad Scott and his band of merry rule makers and tell them what you think of the state of the game .. email and put the subject line – Attention Brad Scott – AFL GM of Football,’ they tweeted.