Steve Hocking. Picture: AFL.com.au

What is the AFL's obsession with changing the rules each year? It's time it starts listening to its audience before it disappears.

Here we are again, AFL fans.

The AFL has once again introduced more changes to the rules of the premier Australian rules football competition, and one of the introduced trial rules threatens to change it all.

It has introduced three, yes three, new rules for the 2021 AFL campaign.

The first is the location of the mark at kick-ins, which has been moved from 10 metres towards the centre of the ground to 15.

The second is the player standing the mark, where the defending player will be permitted minimal lateral movement.

If the defending player moves off the mark in any direction prior to ‘play on’ being called, they’ll be punished with a 50-metre penalty.

Interchanges have also been capped at now 75, down from 90 in 2020.

However, those three, as much as they’re puzzling, aren’t as concerning as the final one, which has been introduced in the VFL and East Coast competition.

Three players must remain inside 50 at stoppages.

What this means is that a minimum of three players from each team will need to be stationed inside 50 metres, including one pair in the goalsquare, at the kick ins, boundary throw-ins and ball-ups.

The officiating umpire will not recommence play until all players are in position.

When a team fails to comply at either a boundary throw-in or a ball-up, a free kick will be awarded to the opposing team at the stoppage.

If it’s from a kick-in, a 50-metre penalty will be awarded to the defending team.

This is enough to have AFL fans around the country concerned.

We’re moving further and further around the true fabric of our game for next to no reason.

We’re one step from complete zones and a different game from what we once enjoyed.

For AFL fans who have had enough, get out to your local level and support them, especially those in Western and South Australia.

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