AFL: Heavy penalties await phone users during matches, says CEO Gillon McLachlan

By @hoopsdontstop30 on

The AFL will use Fremantle Dockers forward Hayden Ballantyne’s phone-use incident as a warning to all other players, and begin imposing heavier penalties for similar incidents.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that Ballantyne getting caught using a phone during an ongoing match should act as a warning to footy players across the league. McLachlan told 3AW radio station that while Ballantyne would likely get a slap on the wrist, the league would impose little tolerance for any breaches during the premiership season.

"It's the first time we've had one of these … I think everyone instinctively feels he was calling family and friends,” McLachlan said, reports the league’s official website. "But there's only so many chances you get and (the) home and away (season) is different, and the context is different. There will be a significantly different outcome than I think will happen this time.”

The 28-year-old Ballantyne was caught by Fox Footy’s camera talking on the phone in the Mandurah rooms after receiving treatment for a minor hamstring injury suffered during Fremantle’s match against Richmond Tigers on Friday. Under AFL’s strict rules, players are banned from using mobile phones or any communication devices during games to stamp out the leaking of information that could be used for betting.

The Herald Sun reported on Monday that the AFL’s integrity unit will probe into Ballantyne and ask him who he was speaking to and why, including a possible crosscheck of the players’ device if necessary.

Meanwhile, Dockers coach Ross Lyon believes Ballantyne was just probably letting his family know he was okay after the injury and expects his player to be ready for Round 1.

“If I hypothesise (what he texted), it’s probably: “I’m hurt - love I’m ok. And if it’s that, you would think he might just get a little tap on the wrist and we all move on, and common sense prevails,” Lyon said, reports The Guardian. “The integrity unit - there’s some pretty smart blokes in there, I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”