The AFL has confirmed that they will stick to an eight-team finals format for at least the next two years despite the increase to 18 teams next year. But there will be a change to the NAB Cup format
Wednesday 1 July 2011
The AFL has confirmed that they will stick to an eight-team finals format for at least the next two years despite the increase to 18 teams next year. But there will be a change to the NAB Cup format.
In a media statement issued this morning, the AFL confirmed it had written to all clubs to advise the 22-round fixture structure and final eight system for the Toyota AFL Premiership Season would continue through to the end of the 2013 year.
AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan said the AFL Commission had approved a recommendation from the AFL Executive that there be no significant change to the structure of the premiership season while new teams the Gold Coast Suns and the GWS Giants were bedded down through this expansion period.
The AFL media statement confirmed that at its meeting on the Gold Coast last Friday, McLachlan said the Commission had determined that the season would remain at 22 matches per club, and continue with the current McIntyre Final Eight played over four weeks.
“The introduction of the new teams in the Gold Coast Suns and the GWS Giants, combined with the creation of a new match schedule for the broadcasting of games within the next five-year television contract, has introduced significant new complexity into the fixture process,” Mr McLachlan said.
“It was therefore recommended there be no change to the existing 22-round home and away season.
“The AFL will have an increased focus on fixture optimisation, and will look closely at on and off-field equalisation across all of the 18 clubs,” he said.
Mr McLachlan said the AFL remained open to again looking at the fixture and finals system structure in the future.
Separately, Mr McLachlan said the AFL had confirmed a change to the structure of the pre-season NAB Cup, as follows;
* Round one of the pre-season will follow the format introduced for 2011 with six groups of three teams to play two matches apiece at the one venue, across three shortened matches in a single day / evening.
* For Rounds two and three, all clubs will then play two full-scale matches and have their fixtures scheduled in October/November, enabling clubs to prepare their travel and training schedule, while enabling better promotion of all matches with fixtures published well in advance.
* For Round four, the two-best performed clubs over the four matches played in rounds 1-3, on a wins and percentage basis, will compete in the NAB Cup Grand Final while the other 16 clubs will all play matches at venues used in the home and away season.
Mr McLachlan said all clubs heavily favoured the ability to plan as much of their pre-season preparation as possible, by knowing their matches well in advance, while the change would enable the AFL to program all clubs for both a regional and capital city-based game across the first three rounds for promotional purposes.
Mr McLachlan said the AFL wanted to acknowledge the input of the Club Working Group, and to thank Steve Rosich (Fremantle FC CEO), Cameron Schwab (Melbourne FC CEO), Gary Pert (Collingwood FC CEO) and Andrew Ireland (Sydney Swans CEO) for their involvement. The AFL also received more than 1000 submissions from supporters and more than 16,000 fans participated in the fixture construction survey on the AFL website.
The decisions taken last week reflected the vast majority of this feedback.