It’s official – the 2020 AFL season will be starting as planned on Thursday, March 19, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the AFL have made some minor changes to the Round 1 fixture, with the future of the coming rounds to be determined in the days to come.
What time does the season opener start?
Thursday night’s season opener between the Richmond Tigers and Carlton Blues at the MCG will now begin at 7:40pm (AEDT). It was originally scheduled for 7:25pm.
The other matches that have been pushed back by 15 minutes are Saturday night’s clash between the GWS Giants and Geelong Cats at Giants Stadium in Sydney, and the Gold Coast Suns versus Port Adelaide Power at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast. Both will now start at 7:40pm (AEDT).
The AFL have also announced that the 2020 fixture will be reduced to just 17 matches per team, due to fears the coronavirus crisis could prevent a full 23-round season plus finals from being completed. However, the fixture will remain the same up until Round 4.
At this stage, the timetable from Rounds 2 to 4 also remains unchanged; however, it’s expected that at least some alterations will need to be made.
Here at The Roar, we’ll keep you up to date with any new information about the 2020 AFL season as it happens.
How to watch the 2020 AFL season on TV or streaming
The 2020 AFL season opener will be simulcast on Fox Footy and Channel Seven. As always, Fox Footy will show all matches live and free, while Seven will show a selection of matches per round, which will be different depending on your home state. For more information on which games will be on free to air TV, check out The Roar’s AFL TV Guide.
To watch the match on Fox Footy, you’ll need a valid Foxtel TV subscription.
If streaming is your preferred way of watching footy, you have a range of options to choose from. Perhaps the easiest if you want to watch every game for the season is via a Kayo Sports subscription. Kayo is Foxtel’s sports-exclusive online streaming service. Currently, it costs as little as $25 a month, but it has been reported that AFL club members could receive marked discounts while the crowd ban continues.
If you have a Foxtel subscription instead of Kayo, simply use the Foxtel Go app included in your subscription.
Another option is to get an AFL Live Pass. This can only be purchased through the AFL Live Official App, available on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. This will set you back $4.99 per week, $16.99 per month or $99.99 for a yearly subscription. You may also be eligible for a free trial.
Finally, for overseas footy fans, you can sign up for a Watch AFL Global Pass. This costs USD$28 a month, or USD$149 per year.
If you can’t make it to a screen to watch your team play, we’ll be covering the match here on The Roar with a live blog and all the big moments.
How has the season been changed?
Footy in 2020 is going to be unlike any other season in AFL history. For starters, the competition will be played without a crowd for the foreseeable future, due to the Australian Government’s ban on mass gatherings.
However, the AFL has also admitted that there is a very real possibility the season will need to be compressed to be completed by year’s end. This means that matches could potentially need to be played on weeknights as well as weekends, with clubs facing needing to play multiple matches in a very short timespan. Currently, though, no changes of this nature have been announced.
In addition, quarters will now only last 16 minutes plus time-on, rather than the usual 20. This will reduce players’ fatigue should they be required to play a compressed season.
The AFL have made it clear that the situation is fluid, and thus, any number of measures could be taken in the coming days or weeks to deal with the coronavirus threat. Be sure to check back in at The Roar for the latest news and updates on the season ahead.