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Opinion

What should the AFL look like in 2021 and beyond?

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Roar Guru
26th March, 2020
17

The game needs to reset, but so does the industry as a whole. The challenge we are facing is huge, but it’s also an opportunity for the AFL to grow.

Due to the uncertain times we are facing, there should be no games this season. Every team should play each other twice during the home-and-away season from 2021. That will make for 12 more home-and-away season games, which will increase sponsorship, broadcast rights and revenue from the fans in the long term.

Footy should commence in March if possible as each team will play a total of 34 games in the home-and-away season. This will preserve the integrity of the competition. Collingwood normally have a total of four games out of Victoria, which is traditionally the lowest of any team.

We need to remember that players are the product and that without players there would be no game. There is no question players have expenses and mortgages, just like everyone else in society, but players also have contracts that they have base their expenses around. It’s logical that players should have to forgo as much of their income as the game needs to survive. A new broadcast deal must be negotiated with the players at the forefront of the mind among those negotiating the deal.

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As mentioned earlier, there should be 34 home-and-away games but no games during summer, with the competition running from March to September, as the product is a better spectacle in cooler conditions.

There should be a top ten instead of a top eight in order to make the competition more exciting. The A-League has a top six despite having only 11 teams.

Games can be played at smaller stadiums in order to reduce expenses for the AFL.

The fans need lower ticket prices as well as membership fees so they can also be part of the rebuilding of this fantastic sport. This will be in the short term, until the economy recovers, due to the world’s current economic predicament brought about by the virus.

There should be more games during the week in order to fit the extra games into the time period allotted to AFL football.

Games should be 15 minutes a quarter in order to keep the product of a good standard, with five-minute breaks at quarter-time and three-quarter time and a ten-minute break at half-time.

Dustin Martin of the Tigers and Nat Fyfe of the Dockers compete for the ball

(Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty Images)

There should be a total of eight players on the interchange bench so that the game can be a better spectacle, as there would be fewer injuries. There should still be four emergencies.

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A team list must be extended to a minimum of 50 players, with a maximum of 60 players, to increase squad rotation and the longevity of players careers. It will also mean that more players will be given an opportunity.

There should be a midseason draft to give players who deserve another chance to be on an AFL list an opportunity.

Players who play fewer games should be paid less money. Everyone needs to work together to help a sport that has so much potential to grow and flourish in the long term, but there is going to be some short-term pain to those working in the industry and associated with it.

Goals from outside the 50-metre arc should be worth nine points so that scoring doesn’t suffer.

If the ball hits the post and goes in between the goal, then six points should be awarded, not one, again to increase scoring.

Should the ball hit the post and come back into the field of play, it should be play on.

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The AFL must fund a viable reserves competition for players aspiring to be in the senior team, like the National Premier Leagues for Australian soccer.

WAFL, VFL et cetera must survive and be funded by the AFL so players can be drafted during preseason and midseason. The midseason draft would allow clubs to replace players on their long-term injury list.

Clubs may have to merge due to financial circumstances, but hopefully that’s not the case.

It’s non-negotiable that the league has a relegation and promotion system, as the AFL needs to stop rewarding mediocrity. The idea that the lower you finish, the higher a draft pick you get encourages teams not to try.

Short-term contracts are a must for the league to remain financially viable. There should be no contract greater than five years for a player or a coach and the average contract has to be between one and two years.