The AFL fixture is doing my head in

By Peter Stewart

The AFL fixture has been doing my head in for a while now and I’m sure what I’m about to suggest has already been done but I haven’t seen it out there yet. The current draw is unfair and when the situation arises like it has in the last couple of seasons where teams can play each other twice before they play another side once is criminal.

So to try and even it up let every team play each other once which gets us to round 18. So far so good!  All the various titled games eg Anzac Day, Indigenous round, rivalry round etc can happen as normal.  After round 18 is completed, the ladder positions are locked in from 1-18 and split into 3 divisions. Pos 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18. Getting a little bit complicated.

Within these 3 divisions they play each other once which provides 5 more games which gives us 22 games and 1 bye for a 23 round season.

The catch is the teams that finish in the top 6 play for 4 premiership points which are added on to their existing tally, the middle 6 teams play for 3 premiership points and the bottom 6 play for 2. Halve those amounts for a draw.

There will be issues with not having the draw for the final 5 games till very late in the season but I would imagine all sides should still be able to get their normal amount of home games.

The side that wins the flag will have only played a bottom 6 side once throughout the season and will probably have to play a top 4 side 4 times to win the grail.

Now you are closer to the action than a boy from the Cobram Tigers and you will poke holes in this which I haven’t even considered but all I’m manufacturing is a normal season of 18 rounds, where everyone plays each other once. From those 18 games you create your own seedings and then you play those teams closest to you on the ladder which will influence your final standings.

What do you think?


  1. Ben Footner says

    I see merit in it, but I think the scheduling would be a nightmare. The AFL need to guarantee a certain amount of games in their contracts with grounds, caterers, TV rights etc.

    I’ve always been a fan of the conference system myself. Split the comp into 2 conferences, you play the teams in your conference twice and the teams in the opposite conference once.

    None of this will happen though, it’s all geared for the maximum $$$$$, not maximum fairness.

  2. I think this concept is a great proposal, however to plan a 5 week fixture during the season seems hard! Especially with broadcasting and venues. I came up with an idea last year, it is similar to yours but its fixed before the season starts please view. i think the key might be to keep it really simple. it will be an endless debate as we cant keep anyone happy.

  3. Peter Schumacher says

    The only fair way to do it is to extend the season or decrease the number of teams. This is typical dilemma in that one solution is as bad as the other.

  4. Dave Nadel says

    Or decrease the season, Peter. Now that we have eighteen teams, you could have a seventeen match season. As long as the draw totally reversed every year it would be totally fair (i.e. if Collingwood travels to Subiaco to play West Coast in 2013 then in 2014 West Coast would play Collingwood at the MCG and so on with all 18 teams). Of course this would mean less matches and less $$$$ for the AFL and Seven and Foxtel so it won’t happen.

  5. Give port the flick and merge giants and doggies. Coz GWS need a vic supporter base. GWS bulldogs.

    No nab cup, 16 clubs 30 rounds?

  6. Mark Doyle says

    This is another silly and ridiculous idea from a conservative and parochial Melbourne person who is trying to justify nine Melbourne teams in the AFL competition. The ideas of either playing a seventeen round competition or some form of American style conference competition are absurd.
    The best and most equitable draw is for each club to play each other club twice in a genuine home and away situation. The only time when this has happened is the 1970’s when twelve clubs played a twenty two round season.
    In an ideal world, the AFL would include twelve clubs; which could be West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Sydney, West Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast. This competition would provide fairness and equality with a twenty two round season of each club playing each other at their home venue. The other Melbourne clubs such as Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Richmond, St. Kilda and Western Bulldogs could play in a semi-professional Melbourne competition, which would maintain and preserve their histories and traditions.

  7. Sorry Mark, although born in country Victoria I have spent the last 22 years interstate. Currently living on the Sunny Coast and can’t see myself moving back to Vic in a hurry. Actually I was just trying to find a more equitable draw within the current format. Not sure we will see a 12 club national comp in my life time.
    Cheers Peter

  8. MD,
    Your comment is riddled with inaccuracies. For one, teams played each other twice in the VFL right up until 1986. I suggest you read some histories of the game (Football Ltd by Gary Linnell will help bring you up to speed). Until you have done so, I would suggest you reign in your criticism of others. Pot and the kettle and all that.

  9. Skip of Skipton says

    From 1970-1986 the league had 12 teams that played over 22 rounds, and everyone played each other twice .

    In 1968 and 1969 the season was played over 20 rounds. 1967 and before were 18 round seasons.

    Now obviously up until 1970, teams didn’t always play each other twice. Was there a specific equitable system in place that ensured some consistency over time? Did anyone care back then?

    I see some work for Gigs.

  10. MD,

    You are certainly an all-round player. A little like Leigh Matthews. You attack the ball and the man. Personally I prefer the attack on the ball. Hence I would invite you to outline the framework upon which you argue generally – in an article of your own.

    For example, you use the term ‘in an ideal world’…what is this ideal world of which you speak? Or more importantly, what is its philosophical basis? How is it formed? Do we – the silly and ridiculous, the parochial, the buffoons, the ill-informed – all have a chance to have our sensibility straightened out, or are we all condemned to a gulag somewhere in Easey St, Collingwood.

    Please explain how we can improve our thinking as I could not bring myself to life in Collingwood. A short article will help us immensely.

  11. MD

    Getting rid of Hawthorn (thought not historically) is a great idea. But how can you justify retaining West Coast… in an ideal world?


    Any faults to my idea?

    Only If all teams can’t play each other twice..

  13. I am dismissive of suggestions for the AFL to use the same fixturing and draft systems from overseas football. We can develop our own unique systems.
    The present AFL fixturing system works well with all clubs playing each other once and the extra five rounds providing the AFL with the flexibility to maximise attendances and TV ratings.
    However, in my ideal world of aussie rules football, competitions and clubs at all levels of football – community, semi-professional and professional – would all be financially viable and have the opportunity to win premierships. All competitions at all levels should be restricted to between eight and twelve teams.
    In this ideal world, the community level of football for both junior and adult footy should be amateur with most roles being performed by volunteers. This system of community football would provide the community with great social benefits as well as alleviating financial demands for fund raising; most community football clubs in cities and regional areas are struggling at the moment because of financial demands to pay players and coaches. I also believe that most of the ground infrastructure and maintenance and umpire expense should be provided by local government councils with some funding being quarantined from semi-professional and professional football.
    I believe that the semi-professional level of aussie rules footy should be restricted to the state capital cities of Adelaide , Melbourne and Perth plus the three regional areas of Albury, Shepparton and Geelong. These six competitions should have ten team competitions which are independent from the AFL and subject to a player salary cap. I do not believe that the regional areas of other states have the population and economies to justify a semi-professional competition. This semi-professional level of football could also include rep. footy.
    The professional level of AFL footy should include a twelve team national competition where each team plays each other twice in a genuine home and away competition and could also include an AFL reserves comp. and an under eighteen comp. All three levels of this AFL competition should be totally independent from the six semi-professional comps.

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