New AFL fixture remains on agenda

The AFL continues to look at an overhaul of how the season is structured, with the 17-5 model appearing the most likely option if a change is made.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan said a fixture meeting had been held in the past 10 days.

“It has the ability to be a very significant decision … it’s being looked at,” he said.

“It’s an incredibly important piece of work that’s being done.

“It doesn’t guarantee it will get there.”

But McLachlan added a change for the 2018 season “would be pushing it”.

The 17-5 fixture would involve each club playing the other 17 teams once.

Based on their ladder positions, the teams would be grouped into three six-team conferences and play each other once – the “five” of the model – before the finals.

There are several ongoing issues, including the relevance of the bottom six teams and clubs selling 11-home game memberships, plus venue commitments and contracts.

Another potential problem would be at the start of the finals, the bottom two teams of the top six playing the top two teams of the next tier.

“I’m not going to lead the witnesses, because they’ll come to their own conclusions, but I think the (pre-finals) bye helps deal with that,” McLachlan said.

Meanwhile, McLachlan said an announcement would be made before the start of the season over the start time for the AFL grand final.

There has been ongoing speculation about whether it will change from the traditional afternoon time slot to a twilight or night match.

“I would never recommend moving it for the (TV) ratings,” McLachlan said.

“The priority is the football and the match-day experience.”

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