The AFL has announced a raft of changes to the 2013 edition of the Foxtel Cup.
The number of teams has been reduced to ten (down from sixteen), with less qualifiers per competition making the cut. This means that instead of four matches required to win the competition it will take three.
Qualifiers will be the top two teams from the VFL/SANFL/WAFL, the NT Thunder, the top team from the TFL, NEAFL East and NEAFL North. This should also reduce the number of blowouts.
At the same time, there are some absolute cracker matches that will go a long way. Port Melbourne v West Adelaide, and Norwood v East Fremantle hold the most promise before the finals with none of these teams being AFL reserves sides (Werribee alone this year holds that dubious privilege).
Prize money is also up, with competition winners now taking home $100,000 (up from $60,000).
The competition will shift to a midweek tournament, instead of occupying a saturday afternoon slot. Matches will still have shorter quarters than normal games in order to fit into the allocated two hour broadcast slot.
The changes evidently have suited the top SANFL clubs, as they will compete in the competition for the first time.
Clubs appearing for the first time in the competition include Norwood from the SANFL (founded 1878, 28 SANFL premierships including 2012), Queanbeyan (founded 1925, 13 premierships in various leagues), Southport (founded 1961, 21 premierships – 13 in the QAFL).
Claremont will be returning to defend their Cup title in 2013.
The Fixture will begin with qualifying rounds between the NEAFL and Tasmanian Teams, with the winners of those matches making it into the Cup proper. This is a great move after some of the blowouts from last season’s competition. Even better, these matches will be played in a legitimate home territory.
The Qualifying rounds will be shown on Fox Sports 3.
■ Sat, Apr 13 – Queanbeyan v NT Thunder (Manuka, Canberra)
■ Sat April 20 – Southport v Burnie (Carrara, Gold Coast)
The Cup proper shifts to a week night competition for the first time. These matches will all be shown on Foxfooty and all start at 8.35pm EST. All matches will be on a Tuesday.
■ Tue, May 21 – Norwood v East Fremantle (AAMI Stadium)
■ Tue, May 28 – Werribee v Qualifier one winner (Etihad)
■ Tue, Jun 11 – Port Melbourne v West Adelaide (MCG)
■ Tue, Jun 18 – Claremont v Qualifier 2 winner (Patersons Stadium)
Semi finals and the final will all be held on a Tuesday night and broadcast on Foxfooty.