The AFL fixture is impossible to get right which is why it’s called a fixture and not a draw, it’s number one priority is to attract television ratings and draw fans to the games. Clubs fixture request and common sense comes second to this, which we have known for quite some time.
We don’t all like it but it’s something we have come to get used to as TV rights deals get bigger.
Throughout the year there are some issues that arise that perhaps clubs and supporters overlooked when the fixture was first released but one that shouldn’t have been missed was the blunder that we have in round 12.
The fixture to give all teams with a bye within a 3 week period is certainly creative and gives the AFL a chance to fill most usual time slots with at least one game for the TV audience.
It was also a great opportunity to make sure that teams playing throughout these weeks were not disadvantaged due to the flexibility in the fixture.
Unfortunately this has not happened and we see both Carlton and St Kilda severely disadvantaged coming into round 12.
West Coast, who had a bye in round 11, will host Carlton on Thursday night at Subiaco. This will be the 3rd game in a row that Carlton have had a 6 day break & have to travel to Perth. It’s a game that has been fixtured purely for the purposes of Channel 7 to get a high rated game to make up for last weeks mellow fixture.
Not only does this fixture disadvantage the Blues but to have this game shown live in prime time for the Eastern states it means the game will be played at 5:40pm in Perth on Thursday, meaning many fans won’t be able to attend the match.
The next issue with the upcoming round is that St Kilda, also coming off a 6 day break, will be travelling to Adelaide to play the Crows. While Adelaide is approximately only an hour away by plane it’s a huge disadvantage as they had to travel to the Gold Coast in round 11 and will be travelling again just days from returning.
On Saturday night Gold Coast will host North Melbourne, it’s the only match played in the time slot for the round and hardly a high ratings game.
Why the Carlton & St Kilda matches couldn’t be pushed back a day to be played on Friday and Saturday night respectively is beyond me and lacks a whole lot of common sense and creativity.
It’s a shame that whenever a coach has a criticism of the fixture in the week leading up to a game they are automatically shot down and labelled a sook, I personally would like to see more coaches and football personell open up and criticise the fixture.