Media Release

New Rules for Counting of Players


The SA Football Commission has today adopted new regulations relating to the counting of players following the 19th player incident in the 2018 SANFL preliminary final.

The new regulations to take effect in the SANFL Statewide Super League from next season are:

  • Calling for a count: the capacity to call for a head count has been extended from the captain to include the vice-captain and runner.
  • In-game penalty: if deemed by the umpire following a head count that a team has more than 18 players on the field, the team in breach will not lose any points scored in the match. Instead, the field umpire will pay a free kick and 50 metre penalty and report the circumstances (including the time that the breach occurred in the game and the score line) to SANFL for post-match consideration.
  • Post-match review: a review may be instigated either by a report from a field umpire where a head count has occurred in-game as described above, or a club, league or other match official can request a review by SANFL within 24 hours of the conclusion of the match. If a breach is established, SANFL can determine the penalty – by way of a fine, reversal of the match result or any other sanction as deemed appropriate. SANFL management will have the authority to deal with any minor indiscretion. However, any breach that may have had an impact on the result of the match will be referred to the SANFL Tribunal.
  • Match day procedure: whilst the responsibility for ensuring that there are 18 players on the field of play and three interchange players will remain with clubs, SANFL will implement new game day procedures to remove the potential for error by club officials, particularly to ensure that a match/quarter does not commence until all interchange players have been accounted for.

SANFL General Manager of Football Adam Kelly said that regulation change was deemed necessary following the events of the SANFL Preliminary Final in which North Adelaide Football Club was found guilty of having 19 players on the field for a period of 3 minutes and 39 seconds at the commencement of the final quarter.

“After our experience in dealing with the 19th player incident in the preliminary final and a full review of procedures, SANFL believes that the changes approved by the SA Football Commission provide a more reasonable in-game penalty and appropriately broaden the powers to investigate post-match, along with greater flexibility of sanctions to deal with breaches on a circumstantial basis,” Mr Kelly said.

“The appointment of an additional match day official will also ensure compliance with all regulations and procedures, including that a match does not commence until interchange players from each team have been accounted for.”

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