Instant replay: NNSWF change rules mid-finals to allow video evidence

Mitch Oxborrow
Mitch Oxborrow

Northern NSW Football has defended a decision to change its policy on using footage in disciplinary matters as its premier men’s competition enters the second week of finals.

Clubs were notified on Monday that “authenticated footage provided by Bar TV and other sources may be introduced as evidence in alleged breaches of the national disciplinary regulations and national code of conduct with immediate effect”.

NNSWF chief David Eland said the timing of the rule change was “not really relevant” and came after the federation’s board raised the matter on August 15.

“The board was adamant the disciplinary commissioner should have access to authentic footage,” Eland said. “They didn’t consider that it was this far into the season, they just said this is not right.”

NNSWF had resisted calls in recent years to use footage because Bar TV, which livestream every Northern NSW NPL first-grade game, provides only one camera angle.

Eland said “clearly the footage has its limitations and we still acknowledge that” but the board had ruled to use only “authentic and conclusive” vision. Games will not be routinely reviewed and the change will not apply to past incidents. 

“There’s got to be complaints,” he said. “Most breaches of the code of conduct are formal complaints that we receive from a participant or a club and we obviously then request information and the commissioner makes a determination.”

The decision follows the five-match ban of Broadmeadow star Mitch Oxborrow, who returns for the second leg semi-final against Maitland on Sunday at Magic Park. Oxborrow was found guilty of spitting at an Adamstown player despite footage of the incident not being allowed as evidence.

“It certainly wasn’t specific to the Oxborrow matter at all, but I think the publicity drew the board’s attention to the fact we weren’t using footage,” Eland said. “That’s clearly occurred.”

He said NNSWF hoped the change would act as a deterrent.

“We’re very fortunate that there’s been very few cases of serious alleged misconduct,” he said. “It’s not as if the horse has bolted, but the board’s thinking is that when players and club officials know that we do have the right to view this footage, hopefully it will make people think twice before they have that brain snap.”

“It doesn’t matter sport it is, things happen in the heat of the moment and certainly part of the board’s discussion was having this as potential evidence might make people think twice before they do stupid things.”