The AFL has announced the fixture for Rounds Nine through 12 of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season which will see matches played every day for 20 straight days.
Round Nine will commence on Wednesday 29 July and matches will be played every single day through the four rounds, 20 days straight, finishing on Monday 17 August.
The unprecedented fixture design will see 33 matches across the 20 days, with games played across Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia as well as matches in Tasmania for the first time in 2020.
The two NSW-based teams, Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS will travel to Perth where they will play West Coast Eagles and Fremantle along with playing each other.
“Unprecedented times delivers us an unprecedented fixture for the next block of games. This is giving fans a unique opportunity to watch footy in a way we couldn’t normally produce.” AFL General Manager of Clubs and Broadcasting Travis Auld said.
“This season has had so many twists and turns but it has also driven enormous interest from our supporters across the country. Round Seven had the second highest ratings this year and our average TV ratings for games are up 20% on the 2019 average. The numbers show fans are tuning in to watch their teams and now they can watch footy every day for 20 days.”
Mr Auld said it made sense to compress the season while the majority of clubs were in hubs.
“We have taken the opportunity to compress the season as the feedback from clubs is that while they are in a hub environment there was a desire to play more games in a shorter period of time, and in turn we can effectively complete the season in a quicker format. Given that we don’t have the ability to prioritise attendance at matches this season it allows us to play games in the non-traditional time-slots of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night and showcase our game across the entire week.”
Across the four rounds, night-time double headers will be featured on Monday (Round 11), Wednesday (Round 10), Thursday nights (Round 9 and 10).
“As we set ourselves for the next few weeks, compressing some additional games into the fixture for our upcoming block of matches from Round Nine will feature non-traditional timeslots which will be a new experience for fans.
Pending State Government exemption, North Melbourne will temporarily relocate to Hobart and play two matches at Blundstone Arena across Rounds 11 and 12, hosting Melbourne and Brisbane Lions.
“We have been consistent in our desire to get matches in Tasmania. Both the AFL and North Melbourne are heavily invested into footy in Hobart and we are very happy for the state and the city to host two matches at Blundstone Arena. I would like to thank Premier Gutwein and his team for making this happen” Mr Auld said.
Four-day breaks will be used for the first time with Brisbane, Collingwood, Geelong, Melbourne and North Melbourne having two each, while Adelaide, Essendon, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, Richmond and St Kilda all have one in this fixture block.
“In constructing this block of matches we have focused on ensuring the teams with four-day breaks are, where possible, minimising travel in and around those matches. Teams who have four-day breaks in this block of matches will be afforded a BYE in the next block.”
Carlton, Fremantle, Hawthorn, West Coast Eagles will have a BYE in Round 10, while GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans will have a BYE in Round 11, to accommodate the 14-day quarantine requirement of the WA government.
The teams who are yet to have a scheduled BYE will receive one in the next block of fixtures, with the exception of Melbourne and Essendon who didn’t play a match in Round 3.
Mr Auld thanked the clubs, the players and AFLPA and the broadcasters for being so supportive in an unprecedented period for our game. The AFL and AFLPA reached agreement on four-day breaks, as well as releasing the freeze on player contracts from 2021 onwards.
“The entire AFL industry’s collaboration through this unique season of football has been a defining factor in allowing the competition to continue. I would like to thank the clubs, the players and the AFLPA and our broadcasters for understanding the challenge and playing their part in helping piece this next block of games together.
“I would also like to thank the umpires who have made similar sacrifices across this season.
“It is important for us to remain flexible and agile and to continue to embrace the unique challenges the season continues to throw up.”
Matches will be broadcast live by the Seven Network, Foxtel and via Kayo and the official AFL Live App thanks to Telstra.
The AFL would like to acknowledge the support of all industry stakeholders throughout this process as well as Optimal Planning for their assistance in the construction of the fixture.
Source: AFL Press Release