Brownlow Medal to stay put in AFL

The Brownlow Medal is off limits as the AFL overhauls its finals schedule.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan said there is no way he would contemplate moving the medal count from the Monday night of grand final week.

The introduction of the bye weekend between round 23 and the opening week of the finals means the AFL is making several changes to its September calendar.

The Rising Star and All-Australian functions will move to the week before the September 2-4 bye weekend.

But McLachlan is adamant that the Brownlow, the AFL’s most significant non-match event, is going nowhere.

“I don’t want to move it,” he said.

“It’s a perfect setup for the (grand final) week, a big event.

“I think that’s where it should be.”

When it was put to him that the AFL would be smashed if it moved the Brownlow, McLachlan replied: “I would have smashed myself.”

The AFL will market the new bye week as a celebration of football, with a series of events aimed at maintaining fan interest ahead of the finals.

The league is also looking at playing the last game of round 23 as a Monday night blockbuster.

And the first final is set to be played on a Thursday night.

Having the bye weekend will free up game scheduling, with top-eight teams having ample time to recover.

The league has introduced the bye week because of concerns about finals-bound teams resting large groups of players for dead-rubber games in round 23.

Meanwhile, the AFL could consider a twilight grand final as early as this year.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan was coy on Friday when asked if a decision had been made on when this year’s game would be played.

The grand final scheduling is one of the AFL’s hottest topics.

The fact that McLachlan did not definitively rule out a change from the traditional afternoon time slot this year inevitably will fuel speculation.

“We haven’t even discussed it – it’s not out there,” he said.

“I have not had the discussion with anyone.”

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