AFL - Terrible Ideas, Too Many Ideas, No Idea…

The frequency with which this idea gets raised leaves me worried they’re actually going to do it

AFL could introduce radical fixture change that gives bottom-six team finals incentive
JAY CLARK, Herald Sun
an hour ago
BOTTOM-SIX teams could be given the chance to play finals or secure a significant draft points boost as part of bold a fixture shake-up from next season.

The AFL is developing options to canvass with clubs potentially including “the quite dramatic” move to dangle a finals carrot in front of lower-placed teams as part of a late-August wildcard weekend.

The league is strongly considering splitting the league into three pools of six teams after Round 17, allowing the top and middle conferences to vie for finals positions over the last five rounds.

The three-tier system has considerable support at AFL headquarters and would help inject more evenness and excitement across the fixture late in the season.

But fixture and broadcast boss Travis Auld said one of the biggest headaches of the proposed new fixture format was finding a way to incentivise the bottom-six clubs to finish top of their conference.

The AFL wants to keep the season alive for the bottom teams for as long as possible.

Auld told the Herald Sun the league was investigating all options including providing extra draft points boosts as reward for winning games in the bottom-six conference, or even more remarkably, a spot in a proposed wildcard weekend in the round before finals.

“It is definitely one of the challenges,” Auld said. “I think there is a mixture of (possible incentives including) draft selections, draft points or a quite dramatic one would be the opportunity to play finals.

“It’s at the more dramatic end, but it’s a genuine incentive for (lower-placed) clubs to do that (finish as high up the ladder as they can).

“I don’t know if I’ve got a view on it just yet, because I need to get a better understanding of the impact of things like draft picks.

“But there is no doubt we need to find — if we are going down a fixture format that splits teams into groups — then the challenge is no doubt to find an incentive for that bottom group.”

Of the bottom-six teams last year, Carlton, Brisbane Lions, Richmond, Fremantle and Gold Coast did not win more than one of their last five games as the teams went into development mode, highlighting the need for a new solution. Essendon won two late-season matches.

Fremantle tumbled down the ladder last year.
In February, Auld said the league was “going pretty hard at the moment to see if we are going to make some changes”.

The benefits of a more competitive bottom-six conference would potentially help boost broadcast audiences, game attendances and fan engagement for the lower-placed clubs in the last part of the season.

It would also help eliminate ugly tanking talk.

As part of the proposed revamp, the wildcard weekend could pit the top-ranked team of the middle group (seventh overall) against the best-performed club from the bottom-six, based on their performances against rivals in their pool over the last five rounds of the season.

Teams ranked second and third in the middle group (eighth and ninth overall) would also face-off to finalise the top-eight on the eve of the finals.

The extra draft points option for winning teams in the bottom six could help strengthen clubs’ positions in the draft order and potentially help them jump ahead of other rivals in select rounds of the draft.

Currently, lower-placed clubs are incentivised to drop down the ladder to secure earlier draft picks, although the AFL remains adamant the scourge of tanking has been eliminated from football.

Star players are also regularly sent off for early season-ending surgeries in the later rounds to help prepare them for the new season the following year.

Clubs have made clear they believe the worst-performed clubs, such as last year’s wooden-spooner Essendon, and 2015 struggler Carlton, deserve the No.1 pick in the draft and access to the best underage talent in the country.


  • Teams are split into three pools of six teams after 17 rounds. The top six teams play each other over the remaining five rounds to determine finals positions.
  • The middle six teams play each other for the right to secure one of three wildcard weekend berths. The fourth wildcard weekend spot is given to the best-performed club from the bottom six.
  • In overall ladder rankings, the team in seventh spot would play the best team from the bottom-six. Eighth would take on ninth. The teams which finish 10th, 11th and 12th are eliminated from the finals race.
  • The two winners from the wildcard weekend would secure the remaining two positions in the top eight.

The issue with this kind of system I’ve always had (aside from being unnecessary) is what they can possibly do to make the bottom six bracket anything but a ■■■■ show. The idea of giving the best performing teams of the bottom six better draft picks is laughable, and giving them a finals spot would just encourage late season mid-table tanking.

Imagine last year, three weeks to go before the bracketing, Collingwood and Richmond are tied on points on the edge of the middle 6 and bottom 6 brackets, with no chance of making the top 6. Do you:
a) play to the best of your ability to make the middle 6 and play for 3 spots against Melbourne, St Kilda, North, the Bulldogs, and Port
b) tank like ■■■■ for three weeks, and play for one spot against Carlton, Essendon, Freo, and Gold Coast. Especially if they also provide draft picks/points to further incentivise winning in the loser bracket.

Surely you take option (b) every day of the week.

It’s always been a dumb idea, and it looks like they’re slowly working through a process of making it even dumber.


just lottery the bottom six teams (top 6 picks). and give pick 1 to which ever expansion club is there.


How about, just this once, we change nothing?

  1. Make it a 17 round season
  2. Remove 4 teams from the competition
  3. Then, make it a 13 round season

Woah, easy there.







I agree with something like having the top tier verse each other twice and the bottom tier verse each other twice, but not the draft point incentive…

Scottish Premier League of soccer does something very similar I think. Or did at one stage. But then, they don’t have draft picks to worry about etc.

@SplitRound hit the nail on the head - if you segregate the teams with those guidelines in place, then the bottom 6 is a massive ■■■■-show.

IF they were to go down the road of segregating the bottom 6 - I would like a draft lottery for the first 6 picks involved. 13th would receive 6 balls in the lottery, 14th - 5, 15th - 4, and you can probably see where I’m going from here. SPOILER:

The bottom team receives 1 ball in the lottery.

Alternatively you could give 3, 2, and 1 ball each respectively to 13th/14th, 15th/16th, and 17th/18th.

I dunno. There’s no good solution I’ve heard yet. I guess the sore point for me is that the fixture needs to be even - and there’s no way they’re going to drop it back to “everyone play each other once” - nor are the players or the MCC ever going to agree to a 34 week regular season.

Short of splitting it into conferences (which would possibly eliminate blockbusters, or interstate fans seeing their teams), I actually think the split into three groups after 17 rounds is the most likely “best” solution to addressing the inequity of the fixture.

Alternatively - do the following:

Brisbane and Gold Coast to merge and become the Brisbane SunLions

Norf Melbourne - merge with Hawforn and move to Tassie to become Norf Launceston Hawks.

Melbourne and St Kilda merge to become the Melbourne Demon Saints and bring balance to the force. Or better yet, both fold and do the same.

Then, we can have a 14 team comp - play each other home and away over 26 rounds with no pre-season, a top 6, and eliminate a week of finals.

It’s ■■■■■■ simple really.

No thank you. We need less football not more.


Fark it.
Just try it and see how it goes.
The game has changed so much since the 80s, I don’t really care how it evolves anymore.

The bottom tier will be a ■■■■ show, but who cares. At least they won’t interfere with the positions in the finals by giving up potential additional percentage boosting wins. Those games won’t be on free to air tv.

Do agree that there is the possibility of teams wanting to drop to a tier to give themselves a better chance of winning. I’m assuming dropping tiers would mean you won’t be playing home finals at all, so I don’t think that tactic will work unless there are plenty of Vic teams in the top tier.

“The AFL wants to keep the season alive for the bottom teams for as long as possible.”

Why? They’ve lost lots of games, they don’t deserve to have the season alive.


Why don’t we ■■■■ off all those interstate clubs, bring back Fitzroy and Sth Melbourne have 12 teams, play each other twice with a top four at the end of the season. Only use the MCG and Etihad with games Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Saturday arvo, and a double header at the G every Sunday.

And let me take my farking Esky into the footy so I can drink Coronas with a piece of lime. That is my only concession to modernism.

And still call it AFL to nark everyone everywhere else .


And I forgot, no salary cap and no draft, father/son after 20 games, and one field maggot.


Exactly. On top of which it doesn’t matter what the incentives are, teams are at the bottom of the ladder because they’re ■■■■. It wouldn’t have mattered last year if winning the loser bracket gave you the entire first round of the draft and instant qualification for the Grand Final, Brisbane wouldn’t have won the group because they were utter ■■■■. It wouldn’t have been “alive”.


Lets make it like modern day “Pass the parcel” where everybody gets a ■■■■■■■ prize.


Remove pre-season and a week of finals, and you’ve chopped 4 weeks off the season. Then added 3 back on with the extra rounds.

I’m with you - I’d like less footy - but TV networks would be pretty keen to protect their interest I imagine.

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less footy because we are sh*t atm, but when we’re good again… make it 44 rounds.

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