How long does the AFLW season need to be?

Remove this Banner Ad

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
A couple of years ago I sardonically commented on here that a prestigious sporting event like the FIFA World Cup only requires teams to play about half-a-dozen games at most... so why should AFLW be any different?? I didn’t expect Gillon McLachlan to seriously make the same argument a few months later in radio interviews. Well, he wasn’t really being serious, except insofar to make a valid point about ideal scenarios vs logistical realities.

Since then, the AFL has committed to the following increments for the women's competition structure.

2018: 7 rounds + grand final
2019: 7 rounds + 2 weeks of finals
2020: 8 rounds + 3 weeks of finals (at least that’s what it was supposed to be)
2021: 9 rounds + 3 weeks of finals
2022: 10 rounds + 3 weeks of finals

The two key questions are: How much more does the season need to grow? And where on the calendar is it going to fit?

I think the above increases will get the season very close to its optimal length. Imo there doesn’t appear to be a way for the AFLW season to ever run for longer than four months without severely undermining its ability to thrive as a product. My preference would be to have 11 rounds + 4 weeks of finals from late August to mid-December, thereby avoiding the two months of the year that are the least suitable for football. Most importantly, it would also mean AFLW would never have to be scheduled among, or be cannibalised by, nine games of the men’s AFL comp per week.

I can't help but sense a nagging, petty and immature tone permeating criticisms of “the AFL’s go-slow approach” (as it’s often referred to in hopeless editorials which offer no feasible solution). The most common catchphrase focuses on how teams should all play each other at least once, otherwise the competition is a “joke”. Citing the FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly a cheap response to a cheap jibe. But highlighting the NFL—in which 32 teams play just 16 regular season games—is fair, and it should be accounted for by those who say an eleven-round H&A season in a league of 14 (or even 18) teams simply won’t cut it.

Any credible opposition to my proposal should also attempt to solve the Summer Heat and Clear Window problems, as well as considering the impact of a longer season on issues like list size.
 

jatz14

Norm Smith Medallist
Dec 13, 2011
7,749
8,990
WA
AFL Club
West Coast
Other Teams
Perth Glory W-League
A couple of years ago I sardonically commented on here that a prestigious sporting event like the FIFA World Cup only requires teams to play about half-a-dozen games at most... so why should AFLW be any different?? I didn’t expect Gillon McLachlan to seriously make the same argument a few months later in radio interviews. Well, he wasn’t really being serious, except insofar to make a valid point about ideal scenarios vs logistical realities.

Since then, the AFL has committed to the following increments for the women's competition structure.

2018: 7 rounds + grand final
2019: 7 rounds + 2 weeks of finals
2020: 8 rounds + 3 weeks of finals (at least that’s what it was supposed to be)
2021: 9 rounds + 3 weeks of finals
2022: 10 rounds + 3 weeks of finals

The two key questions are: How much more does the season need to grow? And where on the calendar is it going to fit?

I think the above increases will get the season very close to its optimal length. Imo there doesn’t appear to be a way for the AFLW season to ever run for longer than four months without severely undermining its ability to thrive as a product. My preference would be to have 11 rounds + 4 weeks of finals from late August to mid-December, thereby avoiding the two months of the year that are the least suitable for football. Most importantly, it would also mean AFLW would never have to be scheduled among, or be cannibalised by, nine games of the men’s AFL comp per week.

I can't help but sense a nagging, petty and immature tone permeating criticisms of “the AFL’s go-slow approach” (as it’s often referred to in hopeless editorials which offer no feasible solution). The most common catchphrase focuses on how teams should all play each other at least once, otherwise the competition is a “joke”. Citing the FIFA World Cup is undoubtedly a cheap response to a cheap jibe. But highlighting the NFL—in which 32 teams play just 16 regular season games—is fair, and it should be accounted for by those who say an eleven-round H&A season in a league of 14 (or even 18) teams simply won’t cut it.

Any credible opposition to my proposal should also attempt to solve the Summer Heat and Clear Window problems, as well as considering the impact of a longer season on issues like list size.
There is a transition point, and where that transition point is, and how its negotiated depends on how the AFL views the AFLW.

The AFLW is the premier, and only, pro or semi pro womens football league, and eventually, that is how it will be treated. A large part of the reason for the current structure isnt fear of overlap with the AFL, but fear of overlap with other womens leagues. Taking so many players out of leagues not well placed to be able to cope with the loss is a big issue.

Eventually, those leagues will just have to deal, after they have been given time to adjust.

Then, the AFLW will just overlap with the AFL by a greater margin, and if it affects viewers, it affects viewers.

I think, with reason, they are hoping to build a core support base for the AFLW that will stick with it even during the AFL season. Big enough to make it viable anyway.

I dont think that change happens until after the next expansion, which will be about 2023-2024.

So, about 2025, I think it goes to a 15 game season, starting about where it does now, and going deeper into the AFL season.

Other female leagues should be strong enough to cope missing that many players by then.

Personally, I would rather watch an Eagles AFLW game over a lot of non Eagles AFL games. There are enough AFLW supportrs in the same boat to make it doable.
 

Log in to remove this ad.

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
The AFLW is the premier, and only, pro or semi pro womens football league, and eventually, that is how it will be treated.
So how does the AFL treat AFLW? For one thing, they consider every match is important enough to be televised. Not a small detail, especially in comparison to the coverage afforded to equivalent leagues of other sports.
Then, the AFLW will just overlap with the AFL by a greater margin, and if it affects viewers, it affects viewers.
An indifferent attitude about a huge reduction in viewership (and it would be huge, there's no 'if' about it) isn't what I'd call premier treatment, though. Nor is it compatible with the "can't be what you can't see" philosophy, which is why the AFL have been adamant about televising every game. They threaten to undermine their own work by settling on the overlap option.
I think, with reason, they are hoping to build a core support base for the AFLW that will stick with it even during the AFL season. Big enough to make it viable anyway.
Setting it up to fail that way. One will get prime time scheduling, the other will get shafted to 5.45pm on a Friday or 6.10pm on a Sunday. No prizes for guessing which one gets priority. So again I question how that constitutes premier treatment.
 

kennygambino

Draftee
Jul 11, 2020
18
10
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
There isn’t going to be any more interest in the women’s game if it doesn’t over lap with the men’s, it will be the opposite. Curtain raiser games are the best bet to get decent crowds, look at this year, they didn’t even bother rescheduling the finals after it was called off. It didn’t appear anyone lost any sleep over who might have been premiers.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
There isn’t going to be any more interest in the women’s game if it doesn’t over lap with the men’s, it will be the opposite.
Clearly not true, AFLW ratings and attendance has taken a hit every year just when the men's pre-season matches get underway.
Curtain raiser games are the best bet to get decent crowds, they didn’t even bother rescheduling the finals after it was called off. It didn’t appear anyone lost any sleep over who might have been premiers.
Hopefully those who actually have the AFLW's best interests in mind realise this^ is the kind of drop-kick attitude they're aligning themselves with by supporting an overlapping fixture.
 

kennygambino

Draftee
Jul 11, 2020
18
10
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
Clearly not true, AFLW ratings and attendance has taken a hit every year just when the men's pre-season matches get underway.

Hopefully those who actually have the AFLW's best interests in mind realise this^ is the kind of drop-kick attitude they're aligning themselves with by supporting an overlapping fixture.
The truth hurts, the AFL competition have taken a huge financial blow this year, culling staff and possibly list sizes. The aflw will only ever survive of the back of the men’s comp, until the standard of footy rises. The standard won’t rise much until a generation comes through who have grown up playing the game. You can’t just pluck athletes form different codes who have never touched a football and expect there to be a spectacle.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
The truth hurts, the AFL competition have taken a huge financial blow this year, culling staff and possibly list sizes. The aflw will only ever survive of the back of the men’s comp, until the standard of footy rises. The standard won’t rise much until a generation comes through who have grown up playing the game. You can’t just pluck athletes form different codes who have never touched a football and expect there to be a spectacle.
It will only survive on the back of the men's competition, full stop. But this thread is about how to take it from surviving to thriving. Clearly there's a lot of basic information you need to catch up on before you can contribute to this discussion in any meaningful way, unfortunately.

Truth doesn't hurt. Stupidity, on the other hand...
 

kennygambino

Draftee
Jul 11, 2020
18
10
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
It will only survive on the back of the men's competition, full stop.
You’ve answered your own question right here. How does something thrive while being solely dependent on something else to stay afloat?
To create any sort of atmosphere they’ve had to waiver admission fees or schedule before a men’s game, I can’t see that changing in the short term. It is what it is. It’s all about the standard of the game, while it’s low, interest will be low.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
To create any sort of atmosphere they’ve had to waiver admission fees or schedule before a men’s game, I can’t see that changing in the short term. It is what it is. It’s all about the standard of the game, while it’s low, interest will be low.
The same nonsense always gets trotted out about women's cricket too, but look at what happens when it's treated as a drawcard by administrators--86k paying spectators at the MCG. If CA and the ICC had taken the easy route again and played it as a curtain-raiser to the men's final, people like you would be saying "see, can't even bring in their own crowd, they have to leech off the men!"
 

kennygambino

Draftee
Jul 11, 2020
18
10
AFL Club
Brisbane Lions
The same nonsense always gets trotted out about women's cricket too, but look at what happens when it's treated as a drawcard by administrators--86k paying spectators at the MCG. If CA and the ICC had taken the easy route again and played it as a curtain-raiser to the men's final, people like you would be saying "see, can't even bring in their own crowd, they have to leech off the men!"
The women’s cricket is played at a high skill level, aflw is not, it’s a poor example. It’s not about men or women, it’s about the quality of the game.
 

(Log in to remove this ad.)

TheTassieHawk

Debutant
Oct 12, 2019
140
98
AFL Club
Hawthorn
I think as long as the number of games and finalists increases gradually during and beyond the current CBA the league will continue to improve. When/how this is scheduled is key but as with the AFLW and AFL this season COVID may have quite an impact on the next season or two.

The next 5-10 years will definitely provide more young AFLW recruits who have played footy through most of their junior years rather than those who play less than 20 games before being drafted.

If expansion provides 18 clubs within the next decade then either a 17 round or 22 round season could be reached as the eventual goal at some stage.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
If scheduling is key, shouldn't the AFL work backwards from where the space is on the calendar and structure a season around that, rather than predetermining a fixed number of games and cramming them into where they don't fit?

Another question worth posing is how long AFLW matches need to be? My preference: extend the quarters to 15 minutes with full/proper time on (increases the average duration from about 18 mins to 22.5 mins), and limit every break to 6 mins (can't be done with a season starting in Feb).

That keeps it comfortably contained as a two-hour product while adding an extra quarter's worth of game time to the status quo, theoretically allowing play to open up a bit more. This is another factor that should be prioritised ahead of increasing the number of games imo.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
It should be an 13 game season playing EVERY club once then full finals

Stop selling the girls short
Juvenile platitudes like this offer nothing in the way of tangible solutions. Reminds me of the Rebecca Beeson article published by The Guardian yesterday.

Tell us how a 17-week season (and therefore 21 weeks when all 18 clubs join) can be run without "selling the girls short" of premium media coverage, maximised attendance and optimal playing conditions.
 

The Victorian

Club Legend
Oct 23, 2018
2,980
2,579
Victoria
AFL Club
Gold Coast
Other Teams
Storm, Western Utd
They girls deserve a full season the same way the men do.

If they want to take AFLW to new regions of Australia, extending the season is the way forward.


For the Suns for example, we have a partnership with the NT and Mackay. We need to choose one of those for our home game. We cant have both or we are selling the local community of the Gold Coast short especially with the short season where you only get 3 or 4 home games
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
They girls deserve a full season the same way the men do.
Again, nice sentiments, but severely lacking a specific plan.
For the Suns for example, we have a partnership with the NT and Mackay. We need to choose one of those for our home game. We cant have both or we are selling the local community of the Gold Coast short especially with the short season where you only get 3 or 4 home games
Clearly they've chosen Mackay, there is no deal in place for the AFLW team to play games for premiership points in NT. Unless I've missed it.
 

The Victorian

Club Legend
Oct 23, 2018
2,980
2,579
Victoria
AFL Club
Gold Coast
Other Teams
Storm, Western Utd
Again, nice sentiments, but severely lacking a specific plan.

Clearly they've chosen Mackay, there is no deal in place for the AFLW team to play games for premiership points in NT. Unless I've missed it.
Not a deal because we chose Mackay but there is a club partnership with the NT
 
Sep 4, 2020
40
50
Tampa, FL, USA
AFL Club
GWS
I like the NFL example of 32 teams playing 16 games (soon to be 17, and we all know it’ll eventually wind up at 18) as proof you don’t have to play every team to have a legitimate season.

I think if the AFLW keeps using conferences, you could go with home-and-away for each team in your conference (12 games) and either a home-and-away with the team that finished the same position as you last season (1 plays 1, 2 plays 2, etc.), which takes you to a 14 game season OR you play each team in the opposite conference once at neutral sites in the interest of growing the women’s game, which takes you to 19 games.

I think the former might be easier to do right now, as jumping from fewer than 10 games to almost 20 before even thinking about Finals is a lot, but I guess it wouldn’t be an overnight process anyway.
 

Teen Wolf

Premiership Player
Jul 5, 2011
3,372
4,601
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
I think if the AFLW keeps using conferences, you could go with home-and-away for each team in your conference (12 games) and either a home-and-away with the team that finished the same position as you last season (1 plays 1, 2 plays 2, etc.), which takes you to a 14 game season OR you play each team in the opposite conference once at neutral sites in the interest of growing the women’s game, which takes you to 19 games.
Well if they're going to have conferences, I like the idea of actually using them somewhat properly to help shape the fixture, rather than just having a random mix of intra-conference and cross-conference matches.

Keep in mind that the chances of it being an 18-team league by about 2025 remain pretty good, even in the face of gross bat flu. The chances of the AFL resisting a 17-game and/or everybody-plays-each-other-once season (and instead keeping it to something like an 11-match H&A) also seem fairly strong, though.

So I could see a two-conference 8+3 system working best in that scenario: First 8 games locked in with clubs in the same conference playing each other once, then a floating fixture for the remaining rounds where every team plays 3 teams from the other conference--one from the top third (1st to 3rd after 8 matches), one from the middle third (4th to 6th) and one from the bottom third (7th to 9th).

It admittedly doesn't resolve the problem of a vocal minority of unreasonable AFLW "supporters" having convulsions about "the optics". And to be fair, the league hasn't helped itself on that front even a little bit so far, introducing generic divisions with all the thought and identity of an impromptu Under 10s lightning carnival. I would humbly submit this as a bare-minimum starting point:

Conference1.png
 

TheTassieHawk

Debutant
Oct 12, 2019
140
98
AFL Club
Hawthorn
Interesting idea for an 18 team, 11 game Home and away season Teen Wolf.

Each week there would be once cross conference game so by the end of the first 9 rounds the last 2 matches (rounds 10 and 11) are fixtured according to the principles you talked about (conference standings excluding inter conference games) taking into account which 3rd the Round 1-9 cross conference opponent was ranked in.

That way you don’t need 2 byes per week and an extra week for the season because of an uneven number of teams in each conference.

I would personally prefer 14 teams, 13 rounds by 2023 or 2024 before expanding to 18 teams, 13 rounds and gradually increasing to 17 games by a defined endpoint this decade.
 
Last edited:

jatz14

Norm Smith Medallist
Dec 13, 2011
7,749
8,990
WA
AFL Club
West Coast
Other Teams
Perth Glory W-League
Well if they're going to have conferences, I like the idea of actually using them somewhat properly to help shape the fixture, rather than just having a random mix of intra-conference and cross-conference matches.

Keep in mind that the chances of it being an 18-team league by about 2025 remain pretty good, even in the face of gross bat flu. The chances of the AFL resisting a 17-game and/or everybody-plays-each-other-once season (and instead keeping it to something like an 11-match H&A) also seem fairly strong, though.

So I could see a two-conference 8+3 system working best in that scenario: First 8 games locked in with clubs in the same conference playing each other once, then a floating fixture for the remaining rounds where every team plays 3 teams from the other conference--one from the top third (1st to 3rd after 8 matches), one from the middle third (4th to 6th) and one from the bottom third (7th to 9th).

It admittedly doesn't resolve the problem of a vocal minority of unreasonable AFLW "supporters" having convulsions about "the optics". And to be fair, the league hasn't helped itself on that front even a little bit so far, introducing generic divisions with all the thought and identity of an impromptu Under 10s lightning carnival. I would humbly submit this as a bare-minimum starting point:

View attachment 954125
The issue is, the NFL system evolved out of the different leagues that ultimately created the NFL. These leagues had different strengths, especially initially, so some conferences being stronger us accepted as part of that.

In the AFLW, (and the AFL if it ever goes down that route), this isn't the case. If one conference becomes much stronger or weaker, people will go apeshit.

This is why conferences are based on the proceeding years results.

In any case, an arbitrary geographic divide doesn't seem any more valid that any other way iof dividing up the conferencs.

On moto g(6) plus using BigFooty.com mobile app
 

Remove this Banner Ad