AFL calls for fixture suggestions - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL calls for fixture suggestions

By Sam Lienert 18/06/2010 01:13:51 PM Comments (0)

The AFL is considering a 12-team finals series, wildcard finals entrants and a conference system among possible options for an 18-team competition from 2012 onwards.

The broad, radical range of potential formats are designed to cater for an expanded league, with Gold Coast to join the AFL next season and Greater Western Sydney in 2012.

AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said the increase from the current 16 teams had prompted the league to think about whether they wanted to use the expansion as a catalyst for greater change.

The options under consideration are being put forward for public consultation on the AFL website, with league chiefs expecting to make a decision by late September.

McLachlan said the home and away season, currently 22 rounds over 23 weekends, could stay the same length, or be increased to as many as 24 rounds over 25 weeks.

It might also be divided into two conferences of nine teams, or three conferences of six.

McLachlan said the most likely method of division, if the AFL went down the conference path, was to split up the two teams from Western Australia, South Australia, NSW and Queensland, rather than grouping clubs geographically.

But they also wanted to maintain rivalry matches, such as the SA showdown and WA derby, and their upcoming equivalents in the expansion states, meaning there would be a need for crossover games.

Another scenario would involve clubs being put into divisions according to ladder positions after round 17, ruling the bottom six out of finals contention.

Under the wildcard proposal, teams that just missed out on finals qualification could still earn entry through pre-finals play-offs.

While McLachlan said he personally favoured the retention of an eight-team finals format, the option of expanding to 10 or 12 finalists also held some appeal.

While it risks rewarding teams which have had mediocre seasons and hold minimal premiership hopes, he said the excitement clubs could generate just by reaching the finals was an attraction.

Meanwhile, McLachlan said the 2011 grand final would have to be moved back from its traditional September slot to the first weekend in October unless the AFL wanted to start the season without access to the MCG.

The MCG will be unavailable until the last weekend in March, because of cricket commitments, but the AFL would have to start its 17-team season a week earlier than that to cater for a September finish.

An earlier start would deny the league the chance to continue its recent pattern of opening the season with a Richmond-Carlton fixture, which has drawn huge crowds to the MCG.

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