The AFLW Has Overhauled Its Fixture For 2019 And Fans Aren’t Happy
The AFL cooks it again.
The AFL has revealed a new structure for the 2019 AFLW competition. And the early reaction from fans has been… less than positive.
We already knew that the 2019 women’s competition would feature two new teams (North Melbourne and Geelong), bringing the total number of sides to ten. Most fans and players had hoped this would mean a nine week home and away season, so that every side would get to play each other once.
Instead, the AFL has opted to keep its current seven round system while splitting the competition into two conferences of five teams. Each team will play the other four teams in their conference, as well as three teams from the rival conference.
On the plus side, the new set up will feature a two week finals series. The top two teams from each conference will qualify to preliminary finals, with the two winners going on to contest the grand final the following week.
But while the introduction of a finals series is a major win for the competition, the fact that the league is unwilling to expand the length of the home and away season to match the growing number of teams has not gone down well with supporters.
Absolutely hate the idea of a conference system. Absurd that part of the justification is that teams wouldn’t play each other once in a 7-week season. So instead of making it 10 weeks they split in two. Fails to honour integrity of womens game. #AFLW #AFL https://t.co/uw5Ghp9nmu
— Kate O’Halloran (@Kate_ohalloran) September 7, 2018
An utter travesty. The AFL has not listened to anyone with a stake in #AFLW in insisting in this trash fire of of a 10-team, 7-game fixture. Innovation brings benefits. There are no winners here, except the sports that take women seriously. https://t.co/S4qUEboYvw
— Women in Sport 🌈 (@womeninsportau) September 7, 2018
With expansion to 10 teams next year & 14 in 2020, @aflwomens @afl had a golden chance to create a season that would entice players to the game, give more opportunities and lock in the game as a genuine option for an aspiring sportswoman.
They squibbed it.#AFLW
— Michael Shillito (@tealfooty) September 7, 2018
AFLW fans: we don’t want conferences
AFLW players: we don’t want conferences
AFLW clubs: We don’t want conferences
— 𝕭𝖎𝖌 𝖙𝖎𝖉𝖉𝖞 𝖌𝖔𝖋𝖋 𝖙𝖚𝖇𝖇𝖞 𝖉𝖚𝖉𝖊 (@opiatus) September 7, 2018
No one wants a fucking conference system in the aflw except the men who run the afl. No one. This works for no one. This is terrible. Its ten fucking teams, why is it too much to ask for a nine round season? Don’t expand if you aren’t going to be fair.
— Mz M(issi)o(n Impossib)l(e)ly (@doctor_her) September 7, 2018
AFL going on about how they can’t please everybody in regards to #AFLW but I’d be interested to know if they’ve pleased anybody.
— Stuart Fazakerley (@stuartfaz) September 7, 2018
AFLW season 2021: the league is split into 10 conferences. there are 10 teams. no one plays any games.
— jocelyn (@jocelynseip) September 7, 2018
In revealing the new competition structure, AFL Head of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone told AFL.com.au that “whilst I recognise that players would like to play longer, and some sections of the fan base would like [the season] to go longer as well, we also need to recognise that at the moment, they’re part-time athletes.”
“The feedback we get back through the AFLPA (AFL Players Association) and the players themselves is they’re also struggling with things like leave at work, managing time off and the period of the competition,” she added.
AFL.com.au also cited the league’s concerns that expanding the length of the season would run up costs on things like player payments, accommodation and travel. Although given the AFL reported a revenue of $650.6 million last year, that seems like a bit of a crock.
Of all the outrageous reasoning the league just gave for going full coward and not fully expanding next year’s AFLW season, this one is the most flagrantly bullshit. pic.twitter.com/rNtYfrSWK8
— Cam Tyeson (@camtyeson) September 7, 2018
The full 2019 AFLW fixture and the makeup of the conferences will be announced in late October. The season is expected to commence in early February.
Feature image via Wikimedia.