Umpires set to be hit in the hip pocket

By Tyler Maher

District umpires may need to take a pay cut following the coronavirus sporting shutdown.

AFL Victoria has recommended all leagues across the state reduce field umpire payments by at least 10-20 per cent, with boundary and goal umpires up for a 5-20 per cent cut.

AFL Goulburn Murray and Goulburn Valley Football Umpires Association have been in discussions following the memo, but no decision will be made until a return to play date is finalised.

GVFUA president Andrew Moore said while cutting umpire payments could affect the organisation's ability to entice and retain members, money was far from the only reason the men and women in fluro join the officiating ranks.

“We've had very brief discussions about it,” Moore said.

“But both Jamie (AFL GM region general manager Jamie Macri) and I agreed that there is no point spending heaps of time on it yet until we know what the season is going to look like.

“Payments are one of our recruiting tools, but are not the be all and end all.

“The kids probably do it mostly for a bit of pocket money and in the same way as some players are in it for the money and some play for the love of the game, so do umpires.

“So the discussions could potentially be a bit difficult for some, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Senior field umpires in the region currently get paid upwards of $150 a game.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced yesterday groups of 10 would be allowed to gather outside from tomorrow, but the GVFUA will continue operating training in its current model until AFL Victoria changes its stance on group trainings.

“It is less contact (umpire training) than football training, but we will still follow the AFL Vic guidelines,” Moore said.

“We've had individual training plans set out by our fitness coaches, and they have been in place since the start of isolation.

“We've been doing an online Zoom training session on a Saturday morning as well, and our field, boundary and goal umpires have been creating videos throughout (the shutdown).

“It's more the mental side of things at the moment, it would be great to be able to catch up in person and train near each other rather than looking at a screen.

“But if and when the season gets up and going we'll be ready to go too.”