A Fixturing Fix

It seems that lately the AFL draw has become public enemy number one. Apparently, a system that consistently delivers the best 8 teams of the season to the finals is deeply flawed because each side doesn’t play each other an equal number of times.

On the face of it this is a logical argument. If you have more games against weaker sides you have a considerable advantage over those who have more games against the stronger sides. However, the fact of the matter is that no matter what the draw the best sides for the season (as opposed to those performing best at the end of the year) make the finals. Let’s face it; if a club misses the finals because they have a slightly higher proportion of games against the top-ranked sides, they were only ever going to be making up the numbers come finals time anyway.

For proof the biased draw argument is Betty Swollocks, you need look no further than the predictions made at the start of the year. Many experts believedAdelaide, with a proliferation of gimme games (back then West Coast was considered a guaranteed win), was a certainty for the eight and, with a couple of upsets would be inked in for the top four. WellAdelaidegot their upsets against Hawthorn and St Kilda and yet is nowhere to be seen in the finals race. As always, the 22-game season will deliver the best 8 teams to the finals.

It is now generally accepted that playing each team an equal amount of times will produce the best results. Having said this, playing each side twice (a 34-game season thank you very much) is not a viable option. So the only feasible option is to play each side once. However, an inherent bias exists when you play certain sides at home rather than away. Consider the possibility of West Coast playingGeelong. A draw with the lone fixture between these sides being at Subiaco is vastly different from a lone game at Skilled Stadium. Will this system not be equally flawed depending on where you play each side?

Now here’s the tricky part. If the present system is wrong (and I clearly believe it is not), then what is the best alternative? In this regard, everyone has an opinion they feel free to share with the world and I’m not alone, so here is my alternate draw solution.


The home and away season

 If playing each other once is a superior system, then let’s run with it. From next year there should be 17 rounds with each side playing all others once.


Not burning the bridges of the TV deal

The main problem with this is that it leaves 5 weeks of footy missing from the existing TV deal, so we need to find a suitable product for those remaining weeks. Needless to say, reruns of You Can’t Say That on Television will not suffice.

This is where State of Origincan help. My proposal is that there be a five-week mid-season break and a State of Origincarnival is held in its place. With four sides (WA, SA, Victoria and the Allies) to choose from, there can be two SOO games each week for three weeks with every side playing the other once each for points and percentage. After three weeks a finals system is playing with 1st v 4th and 2nd v 3rd. Then on the fifth and final week a SOO final is contested between the winning sides.


What about the rest of the players

 Given this system would create a big gap in the middle of the year when a lot of players would be left scratching their arses and bumping into things, it would probably be beneficial to have some sort of mid-season competition between the clubs.

My proposal in this regard, is that on week 1, the bottom four sides from the previous year play each other based on random draw. The winners of each match will then progress to the main draw.

In week two, there will be 8 knockout games. Week three will see 4 games. Week four, 2 semi-finals and the last week will be the final, the winner of which is hailed with love and adoration from the (at this stage) football starved public.

I know, it’s a crazy idea, but it just might work. Then again, we might currently have the best available draw and all this talk about how unfair it is is… well, pointless.




  1. John Butler says

    Welcome aboard Todd

    I think they’ve tried the carnival idea before.


  2. Kathryn Michaelsen says

    A 17 round season is too short, especially for TV rights… try this… and I think it was part of the AFL’s thinking…

    Three groups (conferences) each consisting of six teams, decided by lot, previous year ladder position, or by geography. Clubs in each group play each other twice (10 games) and all other clubs once (12 games) making 22 rounds – then a top eight finals series as we now have….

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