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Plans revealed for new AFLB league to begin in 2020

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Expert
17th April, 2019
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Today in breaking news I can exclusively reveal the AFL is working on a secret plan to start a new professional Australian Rules football league ahead of the 2020 season.

We all know the AFL isn’t one to sit idly by when it comes to the future of Australian rules football. I can exclusively reveal The AFL’s plans for a new top-level football league are set to be endorsed at the next meeting of the AFL Commission to allow all 18 AFL clubs enough time to prepare ahead of the first bounce of AFLB in May 2020.

What makes AFLB different to the existing AFL competition? I can exclusively reveal the AFL plans to make critical changes both on and off the field for AFLB, with strict guidelines in place to ensure the objectives of the league are met.

The changes are likely to be significant if the AFL’s full plans for AFLB are signed off by the AFL Commission. For instance, I can exclusively reveal clubs will be required to nominate a position for each player on the team sheet. I can exclusively reveal clubs will line up with two designated ruckman every week, who will be the only players allowed to contest a ruck. Other designated positions include full forward, full back, ruck-rover, goalsneak and designated hitter. It isn’t yet clear what that last position means, but all will be revealed later today.

The positions are important because I can exclusively reveal AFLB will have strict rules regarding player positioning. Each team’s designated full forward, for example, will be required to stand in the goal square and cannot leave the box for the entire game. Similar restrictions will be in place for three forwards (forward 50), three defenders (back 50) and the fullback position (defensive goal square), as well as the centre and two wingers.

Patrick Dangerfield

(Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

To facilitate the positional changes, two new lines will be painted on to the field: one that splits the ground in half vertically and one horizontally. To help make these new lines more logical I can exclusively reveal the centre square will be replaced by a centre diamond, as it was in 1973 and 1974.

There are likely to be substantial changes to the play too. Backwards kicks will be not be rewarded with a mark, a change expected to lean against the emerging kick-mark tactical trend in the AFL in 2019. There will also be a strict limit on the number of handballs allowed in a row, and there will be a ten-second limit on possession in the back half.

I can exclusively reveal the AFL hopes it will encourage AFLB players to kick long down the line to large packs of players. Over and over again.

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Other on-field rule changes thought to be part of the AFLB package include the abolition of the hands in the back rule and a reversion to previous rules regarding high bumps and tackles. The head is sacrosanct no more.

In addition, it is expected the AFL will announce each team will be permitted one ‘free hit’ per game. We understand this rule will allow one player – perhaps the designated hitter – the opportunity to obliterate one of their opponents off the ball without the threat of a free kick or tribunal penalty. We understand the AFL hopes this will lead to a rise in all-in melees.

(Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

I can exclusively reveal there will be a ban on players being sent to the interchange bench after they kick a goal. This rule will be complemented by not just the return of runners, but the option for coaches to have up to two runners on the field at any time.

Enforcing it all will be a single field umpire, a return to the system which was in place up until 1976.

While the on-field changes are thought to be significant in AFLB, it’s off the field where footy fans will notice the most changes. I can exclusively reveal clubs will be limited to a single head coach and single assistant coach. It is hoped the move to limit coaching will work in conjunction with rule changes to promote a simpler – some may say unsophisticated – style of football.

Players will be required to work at least three days per week in a manual labour occupation, preferably as a bricklayer or concreter. There will be strict limits placed on the amount of aerobic training players will be permitted to do each week, although that will be complicated by AFLB’s strict ‘no data, statistics or analysis’ policy.

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After games, players will be required by contract to head to the front bar of the venue they play at to mix with the fans, with AFLB competition points available for the team that sinks the most VB – I can exclusively reveal Carlton and United Breweries is the competition’s major sponsor – before midnight.

The new AFLB league, its full name being AFL Boomer, has been developed with one fan group in mind. The AFL is looking to provide Baby Boomer and fringe Baby Boomer Australian Rules fans with something to distract them every year once they get bored with the real AFL competition.

It is hoped AFL Boomer will placate the likes of Mark Robinson, Gerard Whateley, Damien Barrett, Terry Wallace, David King and other members of the media who, by their own admission, no longer like football. That way the rest of us can continue to watch the game evolve as the sophisticated, competitive and thrilling spectacle it has become over the past ten years.

Author’s note: Thanks to the excellent Ben Cuzzupe and Sean Lawson of Footy Twitter for the inspiration to write this piece.