AFL umpire Michael Pell is reportedly the officiator at the centre of the investigation into suspicious betting activity linked to this year’s Brownlow Medal.
The Herald Sun was among multiple outlets to name Pell as one of four men arrested on Monday by the Victoria Police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit, after suspicious round-by-round betting activity on the 2022 count.
The 32-year-old Pell has umpired 17 AFL matches, all but one in the 2022 season, his first on the senior umpire list.
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It is alleged Pell leaked information on who would receive votes in multiple games he officiated in. He is expected to be stood down.
“There’s been an investigation which appears to have been running for a month or so by the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit into some irregularities which surfaced after the Brownlow,” reporter Mark Buttler said on SEN’s Sportsday.
“I think the AFL was alerted by a betting partner by the sounds of it to some anomalies… in relation to round-by-round betting, spot betting. Nothing to do with Cripps winning the ultimate prize.
“I think we’re talking multiple rounds. I don’t know how many but… a handful.”
Games umpired by Michael Pell in 2022
Round 1: Hawthorn def North Melbourne
Round 2: Brisbane def Essendon
Round 3: GWS def Gold Coast
Round 4: Richmond def Western Bulldogs
Round 5: St Kilda def Gold Coast
Round 6: Fremantle def Carlton
Round 7: GWS def Adelaide
Round 8: Essendon def Hawthorn
Round 9: Sydney def Essendon
Round 10: Western Bulldogs def Gold Coast
Round 11: Port Adelaide def Essendon
Round 14: Geelong def West Coast
Round 15: Port Adelaide def Gold Coast
Round 16: Collingwood def Gold Coast
Round 18: North Melbourne def Richmond
Round 20: Gold Coast def West Coast
Data via AFL Tables
Two 32-year-old men from Glenroy, a 29-year-old man from Oak Park and a 27-year-old man from Drouin are expected to be charged on summons with using information to corrupt a betting event, while warrants were also carried out in Kilsyth, Craigieburn and Doreen.
Detectives seized mobile phones and electronic items while arresting the four men. They are in custody and are assisting police with the ongoing investigations.
Those offences carry a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment.
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The AFL said there was no information suggesting the awarding of votes was impacted by the suspicious betting activity, “as the allegations relate solely to the distribution leaking or improper communication of the 3,2,1 voting outcomes post some specific matches during the season to unauthorised persons”.
AFL EGM Football and General Counsel Andrew Dillon said: “In the days following the 2022 Brownlow Medal count, the AFL was made aware of potential suspicious activity by one of our betting agency partners and the AFL Integrity unit immediately gathered further information.
“Given the nature of the alleged activity we engaged Sports Integrity Australia and Victoria Police to assist with the matter.
“I want to stress that neither Victoria Police, nor the AFL have information to suggest that the outcome of the Brownlow Medal was impacted as the allegations relate solely to the leaking or improper communication of the 3,2,1 voting outcomes of some specific matches during the season.
“Post-game, the Brownlow votes are sealed and stored in a secure off-site location and not opened until they are delivered on stage on Brownlow night. The sealed vote cards are audited throughout the season by KPMG.”
Intelligence and Covert Support Command, Commander Deb Robertson, released a statement on Monday.
“We have a dedicated team of detectives at the Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit who are committed to investigating any and all allegations of corruption in sport,” Robertson said.
“Victorians are well known for their love of AFL and in particular, the prestigious Brownlow Medal award, but equally they want to know that there is integrity, fairness and honesty behind this award.
“We have been working with the AFL and Sport Integrity Australia in relation to these matters, and we will continue to work together to target, disrupt and apprehend people who commit these offences.
“The public assistance is a really key part – we know there are people out there involved in sport who see or hear things they know are not right and we need them to speak up. This can also be done confidentially via Crime Stoppers.”