A Round 23 bye to prevent teams resting half their players has been welcomed by the AFL Fans Association, which says the 2016 AFL draw will please most fans depending on who they support and where they live.
All clubs will have a bye after Round 23 after Fremantle and North Melbourne rested 11 and nine players respectively this year, causing controversy and raising questions about the game’s integrity.
“The bye is a sensible response by the AFL to a tricky situation,” says AFL Fans Association president Gerry Eeman.” The mass ‘resting’ was not in the spirit of the game and upset many fans, particularly those who follow Richmond, which played North the following week, and Adelaide, whose chances of a home final were affected.
“Some fans are concerned that the bye might stall the season’s momentum, but it will prevent this year’s controversy being repeated and gives the AFL an opportunity to showcase some of its major events, such as awards nights.”
As usual, some fans will be unhappy with aspects of their team’s draw. Carlton has no Friday night games and North Melbourne only plays at the MCG once.
“But Collingwood fans should be happy with 14 games at the MCG, 17 in Melbourne and five Friday night games,” Gerry says. “Overall the draw is relatively fan-friendly, apart from 4.40pm Sunday twilight games that don’t suit many families.”
AFLFA FIXTURE HITS
- The Round 23 bye will prevent the embarrassment caused by North Melbourne and Fremantle resting half their players.
- Brisbane has six games in Melbourne (seven in Victoria), which is great for Fitzroy fans, and will host Collingwood and Hawthorn at the Gabba.
- More than half of the Friday night games are outside Victoria, a boon for fans in other states. (MCG – 6, Etihad Stadium – 5, Adelaide Oval – 3, Domain Stadium – 3, Simonds Stadium – 2, Blundstone Arena – 1, SCG – 1).
- The Western Bulldogs’ finals appearance has been rewarded with three Friday night games.
- West Coast has three MCG games, compared to one this year.
AFLFA FIXTURE MISSES
- Sydney has three games at the unpopular ANZ Stadium, which has a year to run on its contract.
- Twilight Sunday games (4.40pm) are not family friendly.
- Carlton, Brisbane Lions, Greater Western Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne and St Kilda have no Friday night games (but arguably haven’t earned them).
- North Melbourne has only one game at the MCG.
- Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Richmond and West Coast each have eight six-day breaks.
AFLFA membership is free and fans are encouraged to join at www.aflfans.org.au.