Roar and Against: The AFL wildcard week is a terrible idea

46 Have your say

    Yesterday it was revealed that plenty of AFL clubs like the idea of a ‘wildcard week’ to determine who makes up the final spots in the top eight.

    The proposal, which could be in place as soon as next season, would see the four sides that finish between seventh and tenth on the ladder face off in sudden death playoff matches – the seventh-placed side playing the tenth-placed one, while teams eight and nine also do battle – with the winners cementing their place in the finals.

    But is the idea any good? The verdict is still out, so we’re going to debate its merits – or lack thereof.

    On one side of the argument we have Roar Editor Ben Conkey, who thinks the wildcard idea is rubbish, while our Assistant Editor, Daniel Jeffrey, reckons the sooner we turn the proposal into reality, the better.

    As always, we want to hear what you think of the idea, so be sure to add your thoughts in the comments section.

    Let’s get to the debate!

    For: The wildcard week is a terrible idea

    BJ Conkey
    For most of the 21st century, Richmond supporters have endured taunts from their friends about finishing ninth and missing the finals (even if they actually haven’t finished ninth all that often).

    If this wildcard idea gets off the ground those jokes won’t work anymore and finishing ninth becomes a good season, especially if you win the playoff match against the eighth-placed side.

    While this idea might keep the end of the season exciting, do we really want to start rewarding mediocrity?

    I cringe at the possibility of a tenth-placed team having a one-off chance to make the finals after a relatively poor home-and-away record.

    Imagine the seventh-placed team having injuries in Round 23 and then losing in that wildcard week after doing all the hard work to make the finals.

    It just doesn’t seem right.


    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Think about how this would have played out with last year’s fairytale run by the Western Bulldogs.

    The Bulldogs finished seventh (15 wins and seven losses) and would have therefore played Port Adelaide (ten wins and 12 losses).

    Sure, the Footscray boys would have most likely won that game, but I doubt they could have gone another four weeks of finals without that bye week.

    A wildcard round devalues the competition.

    It’s fine in theory to say it’s almost impossible to win from tenth place, but what if it does happen under this new system?

    It won’t feel like a miracle or fairytale, like the Bulldogs’ triumph, it will just feel completely manufactured and fake because the tenth-placed side had no right to be in the finals in the first place.

    Against: The wildcard week is an excellent idea

    Daniel Jeffrey
    I’ve plenty of reasons for getting behind this proposal. It would add even more excitement to the end of the regular season, it would nullify the unbearable boredom of the dreadful bye week, and it could actually level out the playing field for the sides on the edge of the top eight.

    The AFL’s current 23-round season will always favour certain teams at the expense of others; some sides are going to have easier draws than others purely because all 18 teams cannot play everyone else in 22 games of footy.

    While we can reasonably conclude that the sides in the top six are always deserving of their place in the finals, regardless of the draw, having the next four sides play off for the right to play in September would ensure all of the top eight are legitimate finalists.

    Take St Kilda and North Melbourne from last season, who finished the season eighth and ninth on the ladder respectively. The Kangaroos had qualified for the finals only on percentage, thanks largely to an incredibly soft start to their season. Of their last 12 matches, they won only two.

    Todd Goldstein North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL 2016

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    The Saints, on the other hand, had a more consistent record, with their wins and losses spread evenly over the season. While percentage was the determining factor for who made the top eight last year, a playoff would ensure we have the best eight teams playing finals footy.

    Naysayers might point to the injustice of the seventh-best team losing to their tenth-placed counterparts, but if your side can’t beat the blokes who finished tenth on the ladder, they don’t deserve to be playing finals.

    Just as importantly, and perhaps even more so, is the wildcard week would nullify the tedium of the bye week. Last year saw a mad dash to make the top four in the last few weeks of the home-and-away season, building up plenty anticipation for the finals, which quickly stalled as footy fans were subjected to a week without a single AFL game.

    The wildcard week would give footy fans something to watch that weekend, all the while ensuring we have the best teams playing in the finals.

    Plus, it’s one more week of knockout footy. What’s not to love about that?

    * * *

    So, it’s over to you now Roarers. Is the wildcard week an idea worth persevering with? Or should it be consigned to the scrapheap? Let us know in the comments below!

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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • May 19th 2017 @ 5:26am
      Slane said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:26am | ! Report

      I don’t see the point. We already let some mediocre teams get smashed in the finals every season.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 5:54am
        Slane said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:54am | ! Report

        Why even stop at 10th place? Are 10th placed teams so much more deserving than 11th placed teams? Let’s give every team a chance to play finals. We might get a team taking home the spoon and be flag in one season. Better yet, let’s do away with the home and away season all together. If the season proper is no longer serving it’s purpose in weeding out the teams that aren’t good enough for finals, why don’t we just play finals and call it a day?

        • May 19th 2017 @ 5:44pm
          mrflibble said | May 19th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

          hate to get all history on you, but it has happened: 1916, when Fitzroy finished last in a season reduced to four teams because of the war. A final four was still deemed viable, and Fitzroy went on to win the flag.
          I think the idea of a wildcard weekend as proposed sucks but in response to BJ’s comment “It won’t feel like a miracle or fairytale, like the Bulldogs’ triumph, it will just feel completely manufactured and fake because the tenth-placed side had no right to be in the finals in the first place,” the final eight is also completely manufactured (as were, variously, the final four, five and six).

    • May 19th 2017 @ 6:21am
      Kane said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:21am | ! Report

      Most ridiculous idea I’ve ever heard. If 7th finish 4 games ahead of 10th but lose in this round then 7th misses out and 10th go in then what’s the point of playing 22 rounds beforehand? Might as well just play 1 round of footy and the 8 winners play finals. STOP CHANGING OUR GAME!!

    • May 19th 2017 @ 6:24am
      PurpleSparkie said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:24am | ! Report

      I think it’s a great idea, particularly for the sides that have a bad start to the season but then hit their straps towards rounds 16 onwards. If you’re able to become the form team of the competition or thereabouts, and claim a few top eight scalps by the last round and you’re in 9th spot, there’s a genuine intrigue to see just how far momentum can carry that team. Its never a bad thing when a mid placed team can cause havoc to the top 8 sides.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 8:29am
        I ate pies said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        The season goes for 23 rounds. If you haven’t won enough over the whole season, not just at the end of it, you don’t deserve to play finals.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 3:11pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

          There is no “deserve” really, you either do or don’t and it’s playing to the conditions set out before you. Before last year coaches of the likely contenders would be doing all they can to lock away a top 4 spot, I think now the smarter coaches would, while happy for a top 4 spot, instead be keeping some in reserve in the H&A to prime their run more wholly at the finals.

          So if the wildcard comes in there’s a little more value in the two spots just outside the 8 (even down to 13 perhaps), whereas right now it’s just too bad if you’re scorching it up at 9th when the finals hit and that’s just the conditions the teams are faced with.

      • May 19th 2017 @ 8:38am
        Kane said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        If you have a bad start to the year then that’s ur own problem, reward teams for winning the most throughout the year, not the one’s that have a purple patch in the last 6 Rounds. Sick of these changes that they make for the sake of change.

        • Roar Guru

          May 19th 2017 @ 3:06pm
          Dalgety Carrington said | May 19th 2017 @ 3:06pm | ! Report

          The game has always been changing, I wonder if people get this idea in their heads that there was at one point in history where there was an ideal “this is the way it should stay” stage?

      • May 20th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Don Freo said | May 20th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        PurpleSparkle (great name), why discriminate for sides that have a poor start and against sides that have a good start?

        I’d like to adapt Slane’s argument. Why not, at the end of the H & A rounds, have a second 23 H & A rounds to see who qualifies?

    • Roar Guru

      May 19th 2017 @ 6:54am
      Penster said | May 19th 2017 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      10 teams in finals rather than 8. Money grabbing gimmick.

    • May 19th 2017 @ 7:11am
      Wobby said | May 19th 2017 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      Bit late for April Fools Day

    • Roar Rookie

      May 19th 2017 @ 8:16am
      Grassy_Grounds said | May 19th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      For farcical’s sake!!!

      It’s just an extension to the elimination finals by another name so the AFL can grab more money from fans and TV broadcasters. They have probably already got a special naming rights sponsor arranged for it too – more $$$.

      What it would mean is that only 39% of the competition don’t play off in finals.

      Why not make it 66% go through to the finals? Or what if after the first 23 weeks only the bottom 20% get knocked out and the finals go on for 10 weeks?

      Since it has become an 18 team competition only once has a team in 10th finished with a win rate of better than 50%*. Why should you be rewarded with finals if you’ve won half, or usually less, of your games? If I win 50%, or less, of my arguments on my next assignment there is no way my professor is going to give me an A and say yes you can go forward with honors!

      Gil (the Dil) McLachlan – Needs to pay more attention to thinking his arguments through before spewing them forth in class. Grade: F

      * – 2012 when Geelong finished with 11 wins and the abandoned match against Adelaide after the tragic death of Crow’s coach Phil Walsh

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