The AFL has announced it is preparing the 2017 draw and has asked clubs to submit fixture requests. AFL.com.au has reported that the consultation process will involve clubs, broadcast partners, players and venues.
While “fan engagement” will be considered as part of the process, AFL Fans Association president Gerry Eeman says he would be disappointed if those who attend games and watch them on TV aren’t properly consulted.
“We are the people who actually attend games and provide the AFL with the numbers it needs to secure $2.5 billion in TV rights,” Gerry says. “Why wouldn’t you involve fans in these discussions?”
“Fans are not unreasonable and we would love the AFL to directly consult fans about what works for them” he says.
Gerry says fans have a range of views, with the following trends emerging:
- The majority of fans who attend games:
- dislike Monday night and Thursday night football, particularly the elderly and those with young families when those games are outside of school holidays.
- dislike having numerous time slots which feel solely designed for TV.
- Saturday afternoon remains the most popular start time, but fans are flexible to a point.
- Sunday night twilight games are yet to win a majority of fans over as a new timeslot.
- Fans would like the Round 23 games confirmed earlier as many travel interstate and need to book holidays, flights and accommodation.
- The fan jury is out on having a Round 23 bye, but some fans are concerned that the season will lose momentum.
- Fans who have become accustomed to following the AFL via television have far fewer concerns with Monday and Thursday night football and the starting times of games.
Gerry says that while fans acknowledge the importance of TV rights to the game, this must be balanced with encouraging fans to turn up.
“Getting people to games is fundamental to the health of the game. The fans who turn up week in week out are the lifeblood of footy clubs so their desires must be taken into account when fixturing is considered. These are the fans that keep their clubs afloat in tough times.”
“There is nothing worse than watching a Sunday twilight game on TV with very few fans at the ground. The spectacle is diminished when unpopular start times keep people away.
“Last Sunday’s Brisbane-GWS game drew just 10,195 – Brisbane’s lowest ever Gabba crowd. Brisbane are not playing well, but the start time didn’t help.”
AFLFA membership is free and fans are encouraged to join at www.aflfans.org.au.