The 2020 AFL Fixture is released tomorrow and as always elements of next years draw are always drip-fed to footy fans anxious to know just who, what and where they are playing.
Round one has already been released to the public.
No surprise that Richmond and Carlton open the season on a Thursday night at the MCG, the Tigers will unfurl their 2019 premiership flag and it may see the return of Eddie Betts in Navy Blue with a Carlton squad that finished 2019 full of confidence.
There are already some good match-ups in the Dogs taking on the Pies at Marvel on the Friday night, the Giants v Cats should be a ripper and there’s bound to be interest in the Hodge/Birchall Cup as the Hawks host the Lions at the G.
On paper, it’s a pretty good start to season 2020.
We also know that ANZAC day between the Pies v Dons will be a Saturday twilight fixture, Essendon has been scrapped from Good Friday in favour of the Western Bulldogs taking on North, Carlton will get ZERO Friday night games and the Brisbane Lions will see a lot more prime time football.
But while we sit and wait for the complete 2020 fixture to be released, we’ve come up with a list of what we’d like to see next season
Friday Night Derbies
The SA Showdown and the Derby in WA have always been must-see football fixtures for the good part of 20+ years.
However, the AFL tends to prefer scheduling Victorian clubs on the prime-time stage to satisfy its biggest market, or so they think.
With an appetite for fewer dead-rubber matches in which the AFL has persisted in giving dud-teams like Carlton and Essendon exposure over the years the Showdown and the Derby is always a big game and worthy of the prime-timeslot.
Finals “Re-Matches” In The Early Part of the Season
Footy isn’t boxing, so it’s not really a “re-match”.
For instance if GWS happen to beat Richmond the next time they meet, the Giants won’t get the 2019 premiership cup.
However, we’d like to see matchups such as the Giants v Tigers, Cats v Eagles and Pies v Giants earlier in the season.
Take The Weather With You
Here’s a reminder:
PLAYING GAMES IN CANBERRA AT NIGHT IN AUGUST IS GOING TO BE COLD.
PLAYING GAMES IN BALLARAT LATE IN THE DAY IN JULY IS GOING TO BE BLOODY COLD
PLAYING GAMES IN QUEENSLAND DURING THE DAY IN THE EARLY PART OF THE SEASON IS GOING TO BE BLOODY HOT AND HUMID.
Don’t Go Overboard Rewarding Teams You Think Will Do Well
We’ve seen this movie before.
The AFL think the likes of Carlton, St.Kilda and Essendon are going to do well because they had a few good wins in the latter part of the season despite not making the finals.
We can only hope the Western Bulldogs live up to the hype otherwise there may be a few Friday Night flops ahead of us…again.
2:10 Is Your Friend
The traditional start time of 2:10 on a Saturday Arvo is still very popular with fans who actually go to the ground.
However, in recent years it’s been a timeslot that’s been neglected by the AFL in favour of what the TV stations who pay big bucks prefer.
We all know the League is trying to butter everyone up for a twilight Grand Final but perhaps they can meet the fans half-way and scrap the 3:20 pm starts on a Sunday and Public Holidays in favour for good old 2:10 pm?
The hour and 10 minutes make a big difference in going to/from the grounds for most people.
There’s nothing worse, especially on a public holiday until 3:20 for the game to start purely for the benefit of the TV news.
The TV news ratings will be fine if games don’t finish just on the time the news starts.
If the AFL wants to progress the Grand Final into a Twilight fixture, meet the traditionalists half-way and put more 2:10 afternoon games during the season
Timezones are your friend
Those pesky 4:40 Sunday games in the Eastern States are 2:40 pm in WA and not as much of an inconvenience to the Sandgropers.
Play as many of those Sunday Twilight games in Perth as possible.
Or simply put the most “off-broadway” games possible in that Football wasteland.
The Fixture will be Unfair
TRUTH BOMB – the AFL never has been fair.
Not since the 1964 VFL Season did the fixture feature each individual team playing at their respective home ground with no venues having co-tenants.
Even back then, the VFL was a 12 team competition with 18 rounds so all teams didn’t play each other twice.
The AFL Fixture is a compromised, commercially based schedule.
It’s full of deals with stakeholders such as broadcasters, clubs and venues.
Victorian clubs had their home grounds rationalised years ago and the League wants to play games at venues that can get bums on seats.
Yes – The likes of Richmond and Collingwood will get to play on the MCG more than most and clubs like St.Kilda and North Melbourne will play a heap of games at Marvel. Deal with it.
Geelong is the only Victorian club with its own ground and they will be made to play one-two of its home games at the MCG.
Geelong has not had all of its home games at Kardinina Park since 1969.
Non-Victorian clubs may not get a lot of games at the MCG, where finals are played.
They might get sent to Tassie, Ballarat, Darwin or even China.
But they do get all 11 games at a home ground they are allowed to train on which the Victorian clubs don’t.
The reality is, the AFL Fixture is a commercially based schedule and it’s never going to be fair.
What is fair and makes up for it is the salary cap and draft concessions and with most of the 18 clubs featuring in a Preliminary Final at least once in the past 20 years, the system works.
Just Tell Us What Time the Grand Final Is
We know it’s a ploy to get attention away from other sports during the off-season but if the AFL could just be upfront and say “WE ARE HAVING A NIGHT GRAND FINAL” or “THE GRAND FINAL WILL REMAIN ON THE SATURDAY ARVO” as soon as the fixture is released that would be great.