The AFL will not stage the oft-maligned AFLX pre-season exhibition in 2020, football operations manager Steve Hocking has confirmed.
After just two instalments and no shortage of scepticism from AFL clubs and fans, AFLX is no more.
AFL football operations manager Steve Hocking has confirmed the pre-season exhibition will not be staged in 2020.
Hocking told a meeting of club chief executives on Tuesday the league wanted to provide clear air for next season’s expanded AFLW competition, while also ensuring the men’s pre-season was structured to minimise demands on players.
“There are four new clubs entering the AFLW competition for 2020, and the AFL’s on-field priority next year is to ensure the right emphasis and resources are in place to ensure the women’s competition continues to build on the success of the first three seasons,” he said.
“In addition, the AFL is assessing the full pre-season program for clubs and ways we can ensure the players and clubs are in the best condition in the lead-up to the premiership season.
“This was a constant message in our recent mid-season reviews with the clubs.”
Last year’s AFLX debut was played across three nights in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide with every AFL club required to field a team.
The hit-and-giggle tournament was revamped this year to feature four all-star teams playing at the same venue on one day and a designated “game-changer” with the power to earn double points for the final five minutes of each game.
AFL clubs remained wary of the exhibition and a number of players were pulled out in the days leading up to the tournament.
The AFL’s competition committee has debated shortening the pre-season in a bid to reduce the number of players getting injured before the season proper.
Hocking has previously said the committee will consider a range of options, including giving players a longer off-season break.
Teams that did not play finals are able to bring first to fourth-year players back at the start of November, with senior players joining them a fortnight later.
The AFL also last year enforced a three-week shutdown period at clubs over Christmas, up from two weeks previously.
AFL boss Gillon McLachlan also addressed the club chiefs, saying he hoped overall crowd numbers for the 2019 season would closely match last year’s record figures.