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Clubs sweating on fixture revamp benefits

Peter Ryan and Nick Bowen  May 18, 2017 8:55 AM

AFL 2016 Media - 2017 Fixture Announcement

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 27: Detail shot of the Official Fixture during an AFL press conference announcing the 2017 fixture at AFL House in Melbourne, Australia on October 27, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Clubs are anxious to discover what benefit clubs would receive for finishing high on the ladder if a revamped 18-4 fixture model was adopted when AFL CEOs meet in Melbourne on Thursday.

Discussion on possible alternatives is expected to centre on the 18-4 proposal that a fixture working party developed for consideration after the AFL distributed a paper to club CEOs on the issue. 

While detail on the proposal is light ahead of the discussion, the basic structure would see an 18-game regular season followed by four pre-finals games (two away and two at home) and then a finals series under the existing final-eight system as AFL.com.au revealed in April

While clubs are open to the potential revamp they are keen to ensure that performance in the 18 rounds leading into the pre-finals games is suitably rewarded to ensure that meaning of games that make up the bulk of the season is retained. 

The final-six system that was in place from 1991-1993 was replaced after the third-placed team at the end of the season in 1992 and 1993 was eliminated after just one knockout final.    

In 1992 Collingwood won two more games than St Kilda during the season but were out after the Saints beat them by eight points in week one of the finals.   

Several Victorian-based clubs are also interested in who they might be matched up to play twice in the 18th round which allows the Showdown and derbies to be played twice each season. 

Determining the opponents for each of the 10 Victorian-based clubs would not be as easy as it is for the teams from outside Victoria. 

At this stage, one working model would see the top six after 18 rounds guaranteed a place in the finals, the middle six play for two finals spots and the bottom six receive extra draft points to improve its draft position. 

However, the AFL has been keen to emphasise that the working party has looked at a range of models to assess their respective strengths and weaknesses without locking in or eliminating any possibility at this stage. 

In May 2015, AFL CEOs rejected a proposal for a 17-5 fixture model after limited discussion but Thursday's conversation is expected to be a starting point for a broader debate that will eventually involve club representatives, broadcasters, players and fans.

Club CEOs are also looking forward to being briefed on the Collective Bargaining Agreement that is almost finalised.

The Total Player Payments will increase to $12.5 million per club in 2017 after players negotiated a 20 per cent increase in the first year of the deal, eventually rising to $13.5 million per club per year in the final season of the six-year agreement.

With the TPP expected to be fully funded, clubs are interested to hear other details included in the agreement such as travel, media obligations, injury payments, list sizes and the ability for rookies to be selected in the AFL if available.

AFL.com.au understands clubs will also be briefed on Etihad Stadium and future plans for the NAB AFL Women's competition.