In a significant development for Richmond Football Club, premiership star Liam Baker‘s suspension has been upheld following the AFL Tribunal’s decision.

The incident occurred during a marking contest when Baker, playing as a utility, attempted to spoil the ball but ended up making high contact with Swans key defender Lewis Melican using his shoulder. This led to immediate remonstrations from Swans teammates as tempers flared on the field.

Embed from Getty Images

The AFL Tribunal graded the incident as careless conduct with medium impact and high contact, resulting in Baker’s suspension. Richmond, represented by Sam Tovey, argued not guilty, contending that the action was a legitimate attempt to spoil rather than rough conduct. They also argued for a lower impact grading.

Baker defended his actions, stating that he was initially trying to mark or spoil the ball and only resorted to spoiling when he realized he couldn’t mark it. He maintained that he never braced and was always focused on spoiling the ball.

The AFL, represented by Andrew Woods, countered that Baker’s actions were unreasonable in the circumstances, especially as the spoil became impossible and Baker elected to bump instead. They argued that even if Baker did not intend to bump, his late action was still unreasonable and potentially dangerous.

Ultimately, the AFL Tribunal found Baker’s actions to be very late and unreasonable, highlighting the potential for serious injury. This decision adds to Richmond’s challenges as they already face forced changes with Tom Lynch and Noah Balta ruled out due to injuries.

As Richmond prepares for their upcoming clash against St Kilda in Gather Round, they will need to adjust their lineup to accommodate the absence of Baker along with other unavailable players.