AFL floats radical 2021 fixture schedule
The AFL has told clubs they can expect a radical shake-up of the AFL season next year including a floating fixture that sees the schedule released in blocks of as few as four weeks.
The league briefed club powerbrokers on the potential shape of the 2021 season on Thursday, including a significant departure from the traditional fixture.
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As revealed by the Herald Sun earlier this month, the league is keen to introduce a floating fixture that sees clubs handed chunks of the fixture in four or six-week blocks.
And the league is also keen to continue this year's COVID-inspired Footy Frenzy that saw a condensed schedule where footy was played every day across an 18 or 20-day period.
The league might now push back its fixture release as late as February, although it would need to tell clubs before Round 1 which five opponents they played twice in any given season.
The league will be keen to kick off the 2020 season with a bang, with Richmond-Carlton the Thursday season opener and Collingwood-Western Bulldogs the natural Friday night clash given Adam Treloar's move to the Dogs.
The AFL believes this year's Footy Frenzy turbocharged the fixture, with games on every night and outstanding ratings for broadcasters as many Australians endured lockdown.
Ideally the league would schedule at frenzy across a school holiday period and in northern states where clubs could play as many as three games across a week.
That condensed schedule would need to be ticked off by AFL players but might create more room for the multiple byes the AFLPA has been crying out to receive.
The AFL has been able to engender significant goodwill in the playing group by brokering a pay deal that sees the majority of players accepting only 3.5 per cent pay cuts next year.
The significant issue for the AFL with a floating fixture would be the lack of certainty for AFL fans flying interstate to watch their teams play.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has always said that certainty is a key reason the AFL locks in its season apart from a floating Round 23 fixture.
The AFL has signed an extended deal with free-to-air broadcaster Seven to the end of 2024 but is yet to agree to terms with Fox Footy on a new deal past its current agreement.
Originally published as AFL floats radical 2021 fixture schedule