Matthews wants more, but shorter games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Matthews wants more, but shorter games

By Sam Lienert 23/06/2010 07:38:48 PM Comments (0)

AFL legend Leigh Matthews says the season should be extended to 24 rounds - with shorter matches and a reduced pre-season - when the league expands to 18 teams in 2012.

The four-time premiership coach and playing great has also advocated a $1 million prize for the team that tops the ladder after the home and away season, arguing it is a greater achievement than winning the flag.

Matthews said the AFL could devise a fairer fixture by increasing from the current 22 rounds to 24 once Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney join the competition.

But they would need to balance the increased player workload.

"Maybe we should make our games a little shorter. Play four 25-minute quarters flat or four quarters each of 17-and-a-half minutes, plus time-on," Matthews wrote in a column on the AFL website.

"Either way, make the playing time around 100 minutes instead of the current 120.

"... If we're going to have 24 premiership rounds there needs to be a cut-back in the pre-season because, especially the way the game is being played these days, there is a limit to how many games a player can get out of his body each year."

The AFL last week called for public feedback on numerous options for the expanded competition, although Matthews questioned how seriously they would take it.

"I've been around too long not to think that the AFL pretty much has it worked out already, but it's a terrific PR initiative," he said.

He said the biggest issue was balancing the "massive" conflict between sporting fairness and practical and financial imperatives, predicting fairness would receive lower priority.

"There is no use beating around the bush in an era where thousands of people and the sport itself are fed by the national competition - the draw is mainly about maximising revenue."

Matthews also called for a bigger reward for the team topping the ladder after the minor round.

"I've always thought it is a greater achievement to finish top at the end of the home and away series than to put together a good September to win the premiership," he said.

"... Perhaps there could be a $1 million prize for top spot. It's not what anyone plays for and it would never replace the premiership, but if it was substantial it would at least be something."

Matthews never coached a side to a minor premiership, despite taking Collingwood to the 1990 premiership and Brisbane to flags in 2001-03.

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