Clubs and football fans have remained frustrated at the AFL’s lack of communication in relation to issues as they have arisen throughout the year, particularly the silence of the AFL football operations department in the week after Swans’ defender Dane Rampe was not penalised despite climbing a goalpost as Essendon’s David Myers lined up for goal and their response to crowd issues last month.
Despite the sense of discontent, average attendances to AFL games have also increased by a little over two per cent this season continuing an upward trend in crowds that began in 2017 although last round was the first non-bye round since round 23, 2015 where no game attracted a crowd above 41,000 spectators.
With just one game separating eighth and 14th and eight rounds remaining, the AFL is anticipating interest levels to grow in the lead-in to the finals with the bye rounds behind them and the fight for spots on the ladder intense, the Showdown and Derby on this weekend and Collingwood, West Coast, Richmond, Geelong and Adelaide all still premiership contenders and Essendon in the finals hunt.
Clubs such as Carlton and North Melbourne have also improved since they replaced their respective coaches Brendon Bolton and Brad Scott with caretaker coaches David Teague and Rhyce Shaw, and Gold Coast remains competitive despite going winless since their last-gasp win over the Blues in round four.
The AFL’s message to clubs is important as the broadcast rights still provide 65 per cent of the game’s revenue with the deal running until the end of 2022.
Meanwhile AFL football operations boss Steve Hocking announced West Coast champion and Norm Smith medallist Peter Matera will join the AFL Tribunal jury in 2020.
A descendant of the Gnaala Karla Booja/Ballardong clan of the south-west region of Western Australia, Matera becomes the first Aboriginal person to serve on the AFL Tribunal. The former Eagles wingman playing in two flags for West Coast in 253 games.
A member of the Australian football Hall of Fame, the 50-year-old polled 28 votes in the 1994 Brownlow Medal yet finished second to Carlton’s Greg Williams, who was suspended for 34 matches in his illustrious career. Matera also won the 1992 Norm Smith Medal.