THE PRE-FINALS bye will be back in 2017.
The AFL has deemed the controversial bye weekend, dubbed the ‘celebration of football’, a success this year after it led into the highest-rating finals series (18.37m viewers) since the top-eight system was introduced in 1994.
Finals attendances were also the fourth-highest recorded in that time, with 558,342 fans going to the nine games.
The bye weekend was introduced this season to avoid the scenario of finals-bound teams resting players en masse in the last round.
Despite every senior coach being opposed to the week off leading into finals, the League will again schedule the bye in the soon-to-be-released 2017 ho
Although AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan acknowledged there remains some opposition to the bye, he believed the majority of the football community was supportive after seeing the benefits this season.
“It is the AFL’s view that the greater build-up for fans of all sides competing in the finals strongly contributed to a brilliant month for the game across September, with the best players being able to be as fit and well-prepared as possible for the most important games of the season,” McLachlan said.
“The AFL was able to give a greater focus to both the women’s All-Star game and our retired Legends through the EJ Whitten match while our key awards – such as All Australian selection and the Ron Evans Medal for the Rising Star – also received greater prominence than in previous years with time to value the achievements of those who had starred during the season.”
The AFL will review the events held around the ‘celebration of football’, but McLachlan believed a weekend free of football helped raise the profile of other state level and community competitions across the country.
The 2017 bye will be held between round 23 (August 25-27) and the start of finals (September 7-10), with the AFL keeping the option of scheduling a Thursday night match to kick-off finals.
The Grand Final will return to the last Saturday in September for the first time in three years next season and be held on the 30th.
Next year’s fixture is set to be released by the end of the month and will be the same weighted format as this season, with clubs’ five double-up matches dependent on where they finished on the ladder.
However, the League’s general manager of clubs and operations Travis Auld is set to examine other potential fixture formats, including the 17-5 model and potential to introduce finals wildcards.
In the statement released on Thursday, the League said discussions about fixture reform have made some progress and there was now the flexibility to explore other models.
Honest to god what are the AFL doing it wasn’t successful in anyway shape or form look at how poor Sydney were the 1st week it did benefit the bulldogs greatly