AFL clubs show support for wildcard round

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    Clubs have surprised AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan with their level of interest in a wildcard round the week before the finals.

    A fixture option, debated at length during Thursday’s meeting between the league and the 18 club chief executives, is to replace the round-23 bye with one or more wildcard games.

    One wildcard option is games featuring seven v 10 and eight v nine on the ladder, to maximise the importance of matches leading into the finals.

    McLachlan said “about 12” options were discussed as the AFL tried to improve the lack of fairness in a fixture that featured 18 teams and 22 rounds.

    “The fixture (debate) was animated – it was a really good discussion,” he said.

    “I’m not sure I’m getting many wins there.

    “Wildcard got a lot of discussion – there was more interest in a wildcard round leading into finals than I thought there would be.

    “That had, I would say, not universal but a significant level of support … that was the thing that was probably most surprising,” McLachlan said.

    He added no substantial fixture reform, such as the 17-5 model, was likely for next season – but there was debate on Thursday that wildcard games might be possible.

    The AFL’s ongoing CBA negotiations with the players and the upcoming AFLW expansion were other agenda items, but the fixture was the main meeting topic.

    © AAP 2017