Magpies Could Lose Premiership Title Due To Drunk Goal Umpire

Salerno Law regularly provide legal advice in all areas pertaining to sport. This includes providing advice to both professional athletes, sporting clubs and governing bodies on corporate, commercial and contractual matters, advising on personal injury claims suffered during sport, sanctions against players and clubs (including for doping violations) and also appearing for players and clubs in relation to both administrative and judiciary matters. This has included providing legal advice across all of the major Australian sporting codes and also to some of Australia’s most high profile rugby league, AFL and rugby union players and clubs.

This expertise in sports law also extends into regional sport, particularly where Salerno Law have an office in Kununurra, Australia. In fact, Kununurra Oval and not the MCG, was last weekend subject to sporting controversy. In this regard, the result of the East Kimberley Football League (EKFL) Grand Final is in limbo due to somewhat unusual and novel circumstances. Following a nail-biting victory to the Ord River Magpies over the Halls Creek Hawks on Saturday, 7 August 2021 by 43pts to 42pts, the Magpies thought that they had tasted premiership success. However, the Hawks considered that one of the of goal umpires had cost them victory in circumstances where goals were deemed behinds and vice versa. These decisions being at the expense of the Hawks. Of particular concern was that a behind was awarded to the Hawks in the dying minutes when some players and spectators considered it was in fact a winning goal.

Remarkably, following a complaint from Hawks officials shortly after the final siren, the goal umpire in question was immediately breathalysed and found to be over the legal limit to drive a vehicle. This has resulted in the fate of the EKFL premiership being passed to the Western Australian AFL Football Commission (Commission) to deem whether the result should stand, or whether the game will be required to be replayed (and no doubt being officiated by extremely sober umpires). The Commission will have the benefit of video footage and photographic evidence of the final to help them in their deliberations.

The decision of the Commission is being eagerly awaited and with much interest by the people of the East Kimberley (which covers a large part of North West Australia and incredibly is bigger in size than both Greece and Cuba). This is particularly the case where there is extreme passion for AFL in the East Kimberley.

Should you require any legal advice or assistance in relation to any sports related matter please contact Salerno Law’s Managing Partner, Cliff Savala. Cliff heads up the Salerno Law Sports Law team and his experience in sports law includes acting for the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, numerous Australian athletes (including professional athletes who have represented Australia), national sporting bodies and professional sporting clubs. Cliff also sits on various sporting judiciary committees including Football Queensland Appeals Tribunal and Gold Coast Rugby League Disciplinary Tribunal and was also recently appointed Honorary Solicitor for Football Gold Coast.


By Cliff Savala


DISCLAIMER: This article is only meant to give you general information and should not be relied on as legal advice. Speak to one of our lawyers for more information.


Salerno Law is managed by Emma Salerno, Managing Partner and CEO, who has a wealth of experience from operating her own businesses across Australia as well as a range of in-house and commercial experience both in Australia and overseas.