AFL aiming for 19 consecutive days of footy as it plans new crammed fixture
AFL aiming for 19 consecutive days of footy as it plans new crammed fixture

Revealed: AFL’s plan for 19 consecutive days of footy

Players will agree to the AFL's bold plan to cram the remaining 100 home-and-away matches into eight to 10 weeks if the league releases its freeze on contracts.

The AFL Players' Association does not want players repeatedly backing up off four and five-day breaks - and risking injuries - without the ability to sign a new contract.

The league put a freeze on players signing contracts in March due to uncertainty surrounding the salary cap and list sizes.

The AFL wants to squash Rounds 9-12 into 19 consecutive days, starting on Wednesday July 29.

The football feast would see 33 games staged with six clubs to have the rolling bye in those rounds.

Every club will be given a bye in the run home except for Melbourne and Essendon, who still must play their Round 3 clash that was postponed.

The AFL wants to play some midweek double-headers as it looks to compress the final eight rounds into six weeks.

 

Richmond need to get the rest of their list to Queensland.
Richmond need to get the rest of their list to Queensland.

 

But the league will revert to the traditional Thursday-Sunday format for the final rounds to provide a normal lead-in to finals.

The Grand Final is now slated for October 17, which could be played at night following the Caulfield Cup. However, this year's race could be shifted to November 28 under a proposed Spring Carnival revamp.

Victorian clubs learned on Wednesday that the AFL wanted them to remain based in Queensland for the rest of the season in a move that abandons football's heartland until 2021.

Melbourne and Richmond were left scrambling to get their fringe players into the sunshine state, where they must spend 14 days quarantining in a transition hub before joining their clubs.

The 100-game cram would help finish the season early, which would allow players to return home to their families and save the AFL millions of dollars by shutting down the hubs.

Round 18 is likely to conclude the home-and-away season from September 17-20.

Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast are at the top of the AFL's list to play games in Tasmania and the Northern Territory in the run home to ensure they leave their home state.

It is likely that North Melbourne will host the Lions in Tasmania while the Hawks will fly south with the Suns.

The AFL has also told Victorian clubs that they will not have to play home games against the Queensland clubs at their home grounds.

For example, if Richmond was the home team against Gold Coast then that match would be played at the Gabba instead of Metricon Stadium.

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The AFL is set to release Rounds 9-11 early next week although fixture boss Travis Auld has conceded he cannot compress rounds without the consent of players and clubs.

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan confirmed the Herald Sun's report that the hubs are costing $3 million per week, although that price is set to rise as more families and players fly north.

The AFL handed over its proposal to the AFLPA on Wednesday.

"The AFL's announcement (on Wednesday) was almost like we're going to Queensland for the rest of the year - but are we?" Marsh told the Herald Sun.

"There's a strong chance that happens, but we are working through that.

"The compression of the season is not a fait accompli for us. We've had a number of players raise potential injury issues with us.

"When you couple that with the contract freeze, you've got players with no security for next year as it stands and a situation where they're at a greater risk of injury.

"We put that to the AFL. They will need to release that if we're going to agree to compress the fixture."

About 350 players fall out of contract this year.

 

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

 

Marsh said relocating players' families needed to happen "straight away" so they could start serving their quarantine in Queensland.

The AFL will pay for 100 people in each club's hub.

If clubs want to bring more than 100 people then they will have to split the costs of the extra guests 50-50 with the league.

North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs already have about 90 people each staying at Gold Coast's Mercure Resort.

The Bulldogs brought up all 45 players, six partners, eight kids and about 30 coaches staff members.

The condensed fixture will deliver a football bonanza for fans with games set to be played almost every night.

Sydney and Greater Western Sydney are scheduled to play their next two games at home but they will also be relocated to Queensland if New South Wales' second wave of coronavirus triggers a lockdown.

Queensland will become the home of the AFL with Victorian clubs set to fly in and out of South Australia and Western Australia for the rest of the season.

The AFL also wants to play games in Darwin and Alice Springs next month.

 

North Melbourne is hoping it can play matches in Tasmania. Picture: Michael Klein
North Melbourne is hoping it can play matches in Tasmania. Picture: Michael Klein


The Northern Territory Government confirmed on Wednesday that clubs would not have to quarantine so long as they've been out of Victoria or NSW for 14 days.

The AFL is also considering Cairns for matches while Hawthorn and North Melbourne are clinging on to hope they can host games in Tasmania.

It is unclear whether finalists would return home after the home-and-away season or remain in Queensland.

Crows CEO Andrew Fagan said the AFL had done an incredible job in the face of an ever-changing landscape and immense pressure.

He remained confident the club would have "a number" of its remaining matches at Adelaide Oval so its members and supporters could attend.

"As we have said from the outset, we will be flexible and embrace what comes our way," Fagan said.

 

 

"I would like to thank our players, coaches and staff, as well as those at other clubs, who have and continue to make personal sacrifices to ensure the competition carries on."

Peter Campbell, Head of Fox Sports, said: "The AFL season has and is facing many challenges and Fox Sports is right behind the AFL in ensuring we can keep fans of the game engaged at home.

"Broadcasting is also facing challenges with game day production crews with big workloads in Queensland and at home to support that - but we are working it out as viewers would hope. What's clear is that supporters appreciate everything the AFL, the players and their families, coaching staff and officials are doing to keep the season alive."

Audiences have never been higher or more engaged.

Total viewing across Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo is up 12 per cent on last season and the Carlton v Bulldogs game played last weekend attracted the highest subscription television viewing of Round 6 with 325,000 including a massive audience watching on Kayo.

 

 

 

STRINGER TO HEAD NORTH TO JOIN DONS TEAMMATES

- Reece Homfray

Essendon is preparing to bring the remainder of its squad, including injured star Jake Stringer, into its Queensland hub as soon as possible, but won't face a mass family migration exercise with Stringer the only player on the list with children.

"We'll most likely bring up the rest of the group," Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell said on Wednesday.

"Our players are very accepting and I've been incredibly proud of their acceptance of the uniqueness of this year, and the challenges it will present.

"They know there is an enormous amount out of our control and they've put enormous faith in the club and competition to make good decisions, and so far we all give credit to the AFL in the way they've been able to manage through this.

"There's an understanding we will be in the bubble for longer than first thought and we know that will present different challenges.

"Those challenges might not be evident right now but they will at different points, and we just need to ride the wave of what that presents. Some days we'll get dumped by the wave and other times we'll ride it to shore.

"I feel pretty positive about things."

 

 

Originally published as Revealed: AFL's plan for 19 consecutive days of footy



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