AFL season reduced to 17 rounds as league anticipates coronavirus crisis

The AFL is confident that they will be able to complete 17 rounds in the remaining period of the year, with flexibility to play more games in shorter periods and push back the finals into October if required.

McLachlan said the competition would go on “because we know what football means to people” and the community at this very difficult time needed football to go on.

“We have flexibility now in a 17-round season, it buys us more time,” McLachlan said.

The state league competitions have been postponed and will not commence until May.

The AFL is planning to have a mini-draft for clubs to add state league players to a supplementary list, to cope with the likelihood of games being played in short turnaround. The details of this will be confirmed next week.


The AFL will suffer a major financial hit, with the league’s broadcast rights based on 198 games – or a two-round season of nine games per round – plus finals.

Players were due to have a phone hook-up with league officials on Monday night. It is expected they will be asked to take a significant pay cut this year given not only the impact of fewer games but that those games that are played will be in empty stadiums.

McLachlan said he had had a very productive discussion with AFLPA boss Paul Marsh about the impact of the cut to the fixture and there was recognition of the extraordinary situation the game faced.

A problem of cancelling games due to coronavirus is knowing what the trigger is to resume playing again.

“It is like going off for bad light, when do you go back on again?” a club football head said.

The AFL may change some fixtures to help appease interstate clubs, which are already concerned about travelling more. It could mean that clubs rather than play a home then an away game, might travel and play two away games in a row, in a short period, then fly home.

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