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What does the AFL need to fix ahead of season 2018?

The 2016 AFL grand final. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Roar Guru
24th August, 2017
46
1170 Reads

With the season coming to a close, and both my AFL and local team treading water, here are some thought bubbles from the season.

Contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on
Last year, we had Bryce Gibbs wanting to be traded with three years to run on his contract, while Port Adelaide tried to move on Hamish Hartlett, who had four years to run.

Gary Ablett still apparently wants out of his contract to go back to Geelong, even though he has another year to go. Reports that Ablett will walk from footy if he doesn’t go to Geelong sounds like buyer’s remorse for signing a contract extension for three years.

What is the point of contracts if they are so flimsy?

The fact players can dictate to clubs what they want, and veto if they don’t like it, puts way too much power in their hands.

Clubs aren’t in the clear either, shopping for players during the season, which is against the rules.

How does the AFL fix it though?

Trading needs to be beneficial to all parties, without the AFL getting involved. The last thing we need is the AFL topping up trades with draft picks because clubs can’t pay (or aren’t willing to pay) but the players want to go.

Do we just go full trade only for the start of a career, then full free agency at the end? Clubs wear all the risk of developing the kids, then ship them off to successful clubs when they turn 25.

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There are so many different paths to explore, and I am confident we will stumble through some over the summer.

The momentum-killing pre-finals bye needs to go
Coaches don’t like it, players don’t like it, the fans don’t like it, and it’s a free kick to the NRL.

It doesn’t stop tanking in the last game – if players are carrying niggling injuries and the results don’t matter, they won’t play. They won’t go super Saturday and play everyone at the same time to protect results, it isn’t practical for broadcasters.

Just put things back to the way they were – it asn’t broken to begin with. Fremantle didn’t win the premiership on the back of tanking the last match to St Kilda.

Having open air for the EJ Whitten game and an exhibition women’s game is nice. But with AFLW taking off, we don’t really need token exhibition games – a few will be playing in their own finals in the domestic comps.

Giving SANFL, VFL and WAFL prime coverage won’t be a big draw either. If you are already in that eco-system, you watch games. If you’re not, I am doubtful you will pick it up at the end of the season.

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Score reviews
They are fine, keep them. Geelong kicking a ‘goal’, even though it hit the post in the 2009 grand final, and all the line-ball calls.

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Get it right, sure. But can we speed the process up? It is so boring to stop and wait.

A simple fix is the umpires call and you have 30 seconds to prove they aren’t correct. If it is so line ball that you can’t tell immediately, then let it stand.

I understand they sold the sponsorship rights to the decision review scoreboard, but it soaks up about ten seconds each time. Scrap it, and put a ‘decision pending’ animation on the replays. Fixed!

Homebush and Geelong stadiums
Yes, Simmonds Stadium is the home ground of the Geelong cats, but the AFL own the finals series, not the home teams, so you play where you are told.

Once the stadium renovations are finished, I would give them Simmonds over Docklands, but not the MCG. You’re going to the MCG if some 25,000 fans are going to miss out.

For Greater Western Sydney on the other hand, stop pushing ANZ Stadium as an option. Nobody wants to play there and there are two decent stadiums in Sydney. Use the showgrounds for small crowds, and the SCG for bigger games.

Homebush will eventually become a rectangular stadium, so the option won’t be there. Locking out fans because it’s your home ground is fine for home games when nobody shows up.

Again, for finals the AFL own them. They can tell you where to play. Go to the SCG, fill the stadium and worry about the football.

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Draft lottery for bottom 12
The bottom 12 teams – including the first two eliminated in finals – should go into a lottery for first ten picks, with protections so you can’t go worse than four down from your original position – meaning 18th team would get Pick 5 at worst.

It wouldn’t change much, the high finishing teams are next to no chance of improving their position, and it really just shuffles the deck chairs.

Might be something a maths guru could run with? The AFL like events, and having another dinner and show for the draft lottery is something the AFL would totally consider.

The fixture
The 2-2-1 format works fine – it generally produces the best eight teams at the end of the season, and if a team gets in that probably shouldn’t, they get bundled out of the finals anyway.

Leave it alone.