Former AFL Umpire Dean Margetts says he would not have paid the controversial time-wasting free kick during Friday Night’s draw between Fremantle and Collingwood.

In the 23rd minute of the final quarter, umpire Mathew Nicholls penalised Magpie Lachlan Sullivan for handing the ball to teammate Nick Daicos, rather than the umpire after a ball up was called.

The free kick was paid in Fremantle’s attacking 50, meaning ruck Sean Darcy could take a set shot. Darcy converted the free kick into a handy goal, and the margin was trimmed to 13 points with six minutes remaining.

Margetts, who has umpired over 300 AFL games, told SportFM the rule was not designed to be applied in the way it was.

“From what I understand, of all the information I’ve got, it’s designed for three scenarios,” he said.

“When an umpire calls for a ball up and there’s a player on the ground and he shuffles the ball away and it makes the umpire go and retrieve it, that would be a free kick.”

“When a player has the ball in his possession at a ball up and he starts to walk away directing teammates to where to go and throws the ball back, that’s a time delay.

“The last one is, when the player starts to throw the ball inadvertently away from the umpire, that would be a free kick.”

In the post-match press conference, Collingwood coach Craig McRae said he wasn’t aware the action was worth a free kick. On the contrary, Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said he felt it was fair to be paid.

An AFL spokesperson has since come out supporting Nicholls’ decision, stating the free kick for time-wasting was paid correctly.

Margetts, however, contradicts what the AFL has said.

“On Friday night, Sullivan’s got his back to umpire Nichols, he throws it quickly to Daicos, who throws it straight to the umpire. There’s no time delay, there’s not even a feel of a free kick there,” he said.

“We could be very technical law book umpires and we could pay three hundred free kicks in the game and that’s not what the game’s about.

“I often tell the guys in our program at the WAFL is sometimes the decisions, the best ones you make are the ones you don’t make and it’s managing the game.”

This decision was one of many that stirred up debate this weekend, with coaches Damien Hardwick and Michael Voss also commenting on Saturday’s Carlton-Gold Coast Clash umpiring.

Many people have questioned the leniency and interpretation of the umpiring decisions made this weekend, with some suggesting the Freo-Collingwood time-wasting call, and the 50m penalty Thursday against Laitham Vandermeer were too strict.

Speaking on the interpretation of the time-wasting rule, Margetts said the AFL wanted to have less leniency in this area of the game, to improve play.

“The new rationale this year was to have less leniency on time delay. The AFL wants the game to be sped up… coaches want stoppages, coaches want ball-ups whereas the AFL wants it to be fast-flowing and free,” he said.

“There’s heaps of stuff in the rule book that a lot of stakeholders aren’t aware of. There is a footy feel element and management to it but it’s getting that balance right which is the sticky point at the moment.

“We’ve got two games…where umpiring decisions have marred the outcome to games and that’s not what any umpire wants… We want to talk about the stars and the speed of the game and the closest of the game not what the guys in green are interpreting.”