AFL fines Alastair Clarkson over ‘inappropriate’ comment during North Melbourne practice match with St Kilda

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has copped a significant punishment from the AFL over his “inappropriate” outburst towards St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard.

Clarkson has already apologised over the expletive-laden exchange of words — in which he used the homophobic slur “c*******er” — that followed Webster’s late bump on Kangaroos co-captain Jy Simpkin during a practice match.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Alastair Clarkson speaks after AFL punishment.

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The AFL on Friday afternoon announced Clarkson had been fined $20,000, with a two-game ban hanging over his head until the end of the 2025 season — plus any further sanction — if he breaches ‘conduct unbecoming’ rules in that period.

The 55-year-old will also need to complete Pride in Sport training.

The league said the penalty took into account Clarkson’s apology and “acknowledgement that his conduct was inappropriate and unnecessary”, as well as his “desire to seek help” for his behaviour.

Clarkson attended a snap press conference on Friday, away from club headquarters and in casual clothes, where he accepted the penalty and suspended ban.

“I think I’m going to need to reinvent myself as a coach,” he said.

“That tribalism and passion, which strangely enough is what our game’s built on, that’s been a key part of my coaching for a long, long period of time. Usually I get embroiled in these situations when there’s a significant amount of emotion or I’m trying to protect either a club or a player or myself or my family.”

The premiership coach has again found himself in hot water with the AFL. Credit: Getty Images

Clarkson noted the “no-no” that had “no defence” added to his own significant rap sheet.

“Each time it’s happened I’ve pull myself just below the line again until something happens again,” he said.

“The significance of this sanction … when it’s as significant as this and it involves perhaps taking away the thing I love the most, and that’s to coach, I’ve put myself at risk again.

“I’m hoping it doesn’t dissolve my impact in terms coaching. I’m not just going to have to step just slightly slowly below the line, I’m going to have to step significantly away from that line.

“I know the rules. I’ve been in the game a long period of time. But you get into an emotive state, I (need to) just try to remove myself from those as best I can.”

It was heated moment in the practice match, with Simpkin put in the AFL’s concussion protocols while Webster was later handed a massive seven-match ban.

The outburst is another footnote on Clarkson’s eyebrow-raising history of fiery moments.

He needed to be held back from Matthew Lloyd after the Essendon champion broke Brad Sewell’s cheekbone with a bump in 2009.

In 2012, Clarkson punched a hole in the MCG coaching box wall, and also admitted to swearing at a junior club official during an under-age football match.

Clarkson lashed out at a reporter at a press conference the following year, and in 2017 he was fined $20,000 by the AFL (with $15,000 suspended) after he said he could not comment on “disgraceful umpiring” in a Hawthorn loss to Gold Coast.

In February last year, Clarkson apologised for making a threatening comment to a television reporter during an altercation.

And he has also been embroiled in Hawthorn’s long-running racism scandal where he is booked in for conciliation talks at the Human Rights Commission on March 26 and 27.

In a statement on Monday, Clarkson said he was “deeply disturbed” by the Webster bump on Simpkin, who has a recent concussion history.

“At the quarter-time break I voiced my displeasure to St Kilda players Jimmy Webster and Dougal Howard as they made their way to the quarter-time huddle,” Clarkson said.

“This was an exchange that was emotional in defence of our captain, but unnecessary, and the language I used was inappropriate.

“I have reached out to (Saints coach) Ross Lyon and both the St Kilda players to apologise.”

The outburst followed Jimmy Webster’s bump on Jy Simpkin. Credit: Fox Sports/Getty

Former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley was among the high-profile voices who encouraged the AFL to sanction Clarkson.

“I definitely believe there needs to be a penalty … because (he) apologised 12 months ago and we’re getting a similar red-mist vitriol in the moment,” Buckley told SEN Radio on Tuesday.

“Now yes, it defends his team, it defends his player, it defends his club — I get that.

“But the way that that has happened has been consistently inappropriate.”

AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said on Monday that he didn’t want senior coaches or officials approaching players at breaks in play.

“When you overlay what’s been reported, it’s language that Alastair has already come out and said is inappropriate, it’s something I don’t like, and we don’t need it in our game,” Dillon said.

AFL general counsel Stephen Meade issued a fresh statement on Friday after announcing the penalty.

“Alastair’s conduct does not represent behaviour acceptable to anyone in our game and not what is expected of a senior coach, especially someone of Alastair’s experience,” he said.

“While we understand there are emotions attached to the heat of the contest, engaging with an opposition player during the quarter time break and then using language that is both unacceptable and highly inappropriate is something the AFL does not want in the game.”

North Melbourne accepted the penalty.

“As Alastair has identified himself, his behaviour and the language he used was unacceptable and he has taken responsibility for that,” chief executive Jennifer Watt said.

“He has now received a significant sanction from the AFL as a result of his conduct.

“We also acknowledge that Alastair has reflected on how he responds to incidents like we saw on Sunday, and we’ll support him as he seeks to be better in those situations.”

The North Melbourne coach released a statement on Monday in response to the incident.

The North Melbourne coach released a statement on Monday in response to the incident.

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