However travel distances were also taken into account as was the strength of each side’s off-season recruiting and trading. The AFL hopes this method will continue for the near future.
“A lot of discussion took place,” Livingstone said. “We listened to feedback from last year and we wanted to make sure on a competitive balance point of view, as much as we can, because we are talking about human element being involved here, with teams being able to perform day in, day out, week in, week out.
“We feel like it is more balanced. Making sure that we have in everything that we do, because it is a really intense competition for our players, making sure that we have that athlete wellbeing.
“We’re committed to conferences and we announced that earlier in the year. The competition committee recommended that conferences stayed.
“When we have looked to set the conferences in 2020 we also wanted something that was going to be able to stand the test of time for the next couple of years. We will look to set them the same way [snaking allocation] for 2021 and 2022.”
The 2020 AFLW season will kick off with expansion side Richmond taking on last season’s grand finalists Carlton at Ikon Park on Friday, February 7, while St Kilda will play their first ever game in the national women’s competition against the Western Bulldogs at Moorabbin.
There will also be the first double-header with an AFL and AFLW game when GWS and Geelong go head-to-head in both competitions at Giants Stadium on March 21. Livingstone hinted there would be more AFLW-AFL double-headers for premiership points revealed when the AFL fixture is released on Thursday.
Teams play every side in their own conference once and two teams from the other conference. The AFLW grand final will be played on Saturday April 18th. It will be hosted by the team with the most premiership points.
The top team in each conference will have a bye in the first week of finals, and will then play the winner of clashes between the second and third-placed team in each conference in preliminary finals.
The fixture was announced after a weeks-long dispute over the new AFLW collective bargaining agreement. The agreement was passed on the third vote, with one of the new conditions being the AFL will committ to a review of the AFLW.
“It will be over the next 12 months that we will look to complete that,” Livingstone said.
“We have been able to communicate with the players like we haven’t before … we will sit down and hear from the players more often.
“We have had a group of players who have pushed and prodded and agitated to get an elite competition … I am all for trying to embrace that and trying to work with it.
Livingstone said only some big games – like the WA derby at Optus Stadium – will be ticketed, with very low prices for crowd organisational purposes.
“We believe there is a group of people that are prepared to pay to come and watch AFLW but as we bring in four new teams to the competition we want to make sure we allow their fan base to grow and build.
“That’s not to say we won’t ticket in the future … ticketing eventually will be a very big part of that [making the competition sustainable].”
The first AFL western derby between Fremantle and West Coast – in the Eagles’ inaugural AFLW season – will happen in round two, the same round that former Carlton captain Brianna Davey will play her old side at Ikon Park in Collingwood’s clash with the Blues.
Gold Coast and Brisbane will play the first AFLW Q-Clash in round three and the Swinburne Centre (Punt Road Oval) will host its first AFLW game between Richmond and North Melbourne in round three.
Adelaide (first in A in 2019, premiers)
North Melbourne (third in A in 2019)
Geelong (second in B in 2019)
Greater Western Sydney (third in B in 2019)
Brisbane (fourth in B in 2019)
Gold Coast (new team)
Richmond (new team)
Fremantle (second in A in 2019)
Melbourne (fourth in A in 2019)
Western Bulldogs (fifth in A in 2019)
Carlton (first in B in 2019)
Collingwood (fifth in B in 2019)
St Kilda (new team)
West Coast (new team)
Anthony is a reporter at The Age.