GWS likely to play AFL a year early - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

GWS likely to play AFL a year early

By Sam Lienert 07/05/2010 12:49:41 PM Comments (0)

The AFL's 18th club, Greater Western Sydney (GWS), is expected to get its first taste of top-level football a year earlier than planned, as part of next year's pre-season competition.

AFL commercial operations manager Gillon McLachlan said the second Sydney club, due to join the league in 2012, is almost certain to be part of a radical new pre-season format in 2011.

Eighteen teams will be divided into six groups of three for the opening round of the competition, and play in two mini-games against each of the other teams in the group.

The group games would be played back-to-back at the same venue.

The six undefeated teams from each group, as well as two wildcard teams, would then progress into a traditional knockout format for the remainder of the competition.

McLachlan said the new formula was needed with Gold Coast joining the league next season and the league decided an 18-team competition would work better than any of the 17-team models they could devise.

"It's a very different approach to the NAB Cup that contemplates the innovation we've always embraced in the NAB Cup," McLachlan said.

"Plus it contemplates the feedback from the clubs that three full-scale practice games is probably enough for them, so we've been able to innovate in this first week."

He said GWS were keen on the idea, as were chief executives of the other clubs and television broadcasters.

"I know that Greater Western Sydney are very keen to be that team and we think it makes a lot of sense given they'll be in the main competition the year after for it to be them," McLachlan said.

He acknowledged there was a risk of GWS - who will not have their full AFL squad assembled - being uncompetitive, which could be a marketing setback a year out from their full-scale introduction to the league.

But they would be able to supplement their list in some way, although the details are yet to be worked out.

"That's a real risk, I guess you've got someone though in (coach) Kevin Sheedy who doesn't mind taking risks," he said.

"We need to contemplate that when we look at what support they can have for their squad."

The wildcard teams would be determined under a best losers formula, taking into account losing margins and possibly super goals.

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