Alice Springs will host AFL Indigenous Round match in 2014 with Melbourne taking on Port Adelaide at TIO Traeger Park on 31st May and AFL Grand Finalist Fremantle lining up against the Demons on July 5 at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
The AFL today released the fixture for the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, which will be highlighted by an historic return for AFL football to one of Australia’s great sporting venues, and a welcome to a new ground and regional city hosting its first-ever match for premiership points.
AFL Deputy Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan and AFL General Manager – Broadcasting, Scheduling and Major Projects Simon Lethlean released the fixture today, which sees the inclusion of Adelaide Oval as a regular venue for Australia’s only indigenous game as one of the highpoints for the national competition.
Adelaide Oval first staged football games in the 1870s but has not hosted regular top-level football in SA for four decades, since the 1973 SANFL Grand Final between Glenelg and North Adelaide. After Port Adelaide hosted a single match for premiership points late in the 2011 season, Adelaide Oval will become a fully-fledged regular AFL venue from the start of the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, beginning with a round two showdown between the Power and the Adelaide Crows, and Mr McLachlan said the return of football to the city centre was expected to completely change the look of central Adelaide.
In May, as part of Indigenous Round, Alice Springs will host an historic first-ever match for premiership points in central Australia when Melbourne hosts Port Adelaide.
St Kilda and the Brisbane Lions will again celebrate the historic links between our country and near neighbours New Zealand with an ANZAC Day encounter in Wellington, following on from the first-ever match played outside Australia’s shores in 2013 between the Saints and the Sydney Swans.
In 2013, the fixture process was subject to a detailed review by the AFL Executive and Commission, focussing on the length of the season and quantity of matches for all clubs and the key issue of on-field equity.
Mr McLachlan said the major change to the fixture construction process saw a decision that the final ladder from the previous season would now be grouped into the top six teams, middle six teams and bottom six teams with regard to better managing the equality of double match-ups for all clubs the following season.
The 2014 fixture would retain the key elements with a 23-round season for all clubs to play 11 home and 11 away games, with two byes for each club. The season structure will have 18 standard rounds of nine matches, two rounds (One and 18) in which the nine matches are spread across two weekends and three Rounds (Eight, Nine and 10) where six matches will be played each week, enabling six clubs to have a bye in each round.
The weighting of second-time match ups for clubs enables the AFL to better deal with the key requirement of equality, as well as continuing to ensure that venue obligations and broadcast obligations could be met, Mr McLachlan said.
A total of 198 home and away matches of season 2014 will be played in venues throughout every state and territory, with matches outside the regular capital cities in Alice Springs (one), Cairns (one), Darwin (one), Hobart (two) Canberra (three) and Launceston (four), as well as the match in New Zealand.
Mr McLachlan said the fixture was constructed with the primary aim to maximise attendances at all matches to enable fans to access the game in strong numbers, as well as to continue to build the AFL game as the number one code in this country.
"The annual construction of our fixture – the single most important year-to-year document in our game – is a process that takes some four months and occupies the highest priority for our competition and I’d like to congratulate the work of Simon Lethlean and his team," Mr McLachlan said.
A standard AFL round, as part of the agreement with the Seven Network and Foxtel/FOX FOOTY, will continue to feature one Friday night match, two Saturday afternoon matches, one Saturday twilight match, two Saturday night matches, one early Sunday match, one Sunday afternoon match and one Sunday twilight match.
Outside of a standard round of nine matches, the AFL will continue to play on key public holidays (Easter Thursday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day and Queen’s Birthday) with a number of other event slots (Thursday night games in Rounds One, Two, Five, Nine, 11 and 19; four Sunday night matches in Melbourne and two from Perth and one Monday night, post Mothers’ Day) as features of the season, Mr Lethlean said.
Key features of the 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season include:
- Opening Round to be played over two weeks, commencing on Friday March 14, with a night match at Etihad Stadium between Collingwood and Fremantle, as part of four matches on the opening weekend and then a further five games across Thursday March 20 – Sunday March 23.
- The second week of Opening Round to feature a first-ever Thursday night match under lights at Simonds Stadium with the Geelong Cats to start their season against the Adelaide Crows.
- A total of six Thursday night matches across five states in all to be played in 2014 with Thursday night in Round One to also be followed by Round Two (MCG), Round Five (Easter, Gabba), Round Nine (Adelaide Oval), Round 11 (SCG) and Round 19 (Patersons Stadium).
- GIANTS Stadium, Metricon Stadium and Aurora Stadium to all host matches in Opening Round as the MCG remains unavailable to football until round two.
- Round One game at Aurora Stadium to be the first of six matches to be played in Tasmania in 2014, with Hawthorn to play four matches in Launceston’s Aurora Stadium, hosting the Brisbane Lions (Round One), West Coast (Round 12), Gold Coast Suns (Round 15) and the Western Bulldogs (Round 19), while North Melbourne to again play two ‘home’ matches at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena, against St Kilda (Round 17) and the Adelaide Crows (Round 22).
- 2013 elimination final opponents Richmond and Carlton to play the first MCG match of the season in Round Two with a Thursday night match on March 27.
- Round Two will see the return of regular top-level football to the Adelaide Oval for the first time since the 1973 SANFL Grand Final when Port Adelaide hosts the Adelaide Crows in Showdown 36.
- ANZ Stadium to host the first of three large-drawing matches for the Sydney Swans in Round Two against Collingwood, followed by games in Rounds Eight and 23 against fellow big-Victorian clubs Hawthorn and Richmond.
- Hawthorn to unfurl the premiership flag at the MCG against its vanquished opponent Fremantle in a Friday night match to open Round Three. The 2013 Grand Finalists will play the return match at Patersons Stadium in Round 21.
- Round Three will also see the trial during school holidays of a big-drawing Sunday night match at the MCG with Essendon to host traditional rivals Carlton. Six Sunday night matches in all will be played in 2014 in Rounds One (Carlton v Port Adelaide and West Coast v Western Bulldogs), Three (Essendon v Carlton), 11 (West Coast v North Melbourne),12 (North Melbourne v Richmond) and 15 (Collingwood v Carlton).
- GWS GIANTS to host three matches at Canberra’s StarTrack Oval, in Rounds Four, Seven and 20, against the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and North Melbourne respectively.
- Round Six has the potential to be the largest-drawing round of matches in AFL history, beginning with a triple-header of matches on Anzac Day, spread across Melbourne, Wellington in New Zealand and Perth.
- Across the Anzac Day Round, Richmond will host Hawthorn at the MCG in a big-drawing Sunday match while Port Adelaide will host the Geelong Cats at Adelaide Oval.
- One Monday night match will be played in 2014 in Round Eight when St Kilda again hosts Carlton at Etihad Stadium.
- Players will have two byes per club in 2014 with the first break for all clubs to be spread across rounds Eight, Nine and 10. Six matches will be played in each round, enabling six clubs to enjoy a bye across each of the three weeks.
- The second bye for all clubs will be in round 18 when the round is split across two weekends.
- As part of Indigenous Round in Round 11, St Kilda will be hosting Collingwood on the Friday night at Etihad Stadium in a "Reconciliation Match" which will recognise 21 years since the "Nicky Winmar" moment at Victoria Park.
- TIO Traeger Park in Alice Springs will host a first-ever match for premiership points when Melbourne hosts Port Adelaide. Melbourne will host a second match in the NT when it hosts Fremantle at TIO Stadium in Darwin in Round 16.
- Melbourne and Collingwood to meet in the traditional Queen’s Birthday Monday holiday match at the MCG in Round 12.
- Carlton v Hawthorn on Friday night of Round 13 from the MCG which will coincide with the Carlton 150th anniversary celebrations and Mick Malthouse’s 700th match as senior coach.
- The Western Bulldogs to host the Gold Coast SUNS at Cazalys Stadium in Cairns in Round 17.
- Intra-state rivalries maintained in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales with two Q-Clashes between the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS (Rounds Three and 18), two derbies between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle (Rounds Seven and 15), two showdowns between the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide (Rounds Two and 15) and two derbies between the Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS (Rounds One and 15).
- Matches scheduled both home and away between strong-drawing Victorian clubs to maximise attendances and television audiences – Hawthorn –Geelong Cats (Rounds Five and 22); Hawthorn – Collingwood (Rounds 14 and 23); Geelong Cats – Carlton (Rounds 12 and 21); Carlton – Collingwood (Round Seven and 15); Collingwood – Essendon (Rounds Six and 17); Carlton – Essendon (Rounds Three and 23); Richmond – Essendon (Rounds 11 and 20).
- No teams to play each other for the second time until after Round 10. There must also be a minimum of six weeks between clubs’ first and second meetings.
- All clubs to play each other once by Round 22.
- Minimum six-day break for all clubs between each match, with exceptions only for Easter Thursday in Brisbane.
- All Victorian-based clubs to travel interstate on a minimum of five occasions.
- All clubs to play at least one match at the MCG, as part of a minimum four in Victoria.
- Round 23 matches to remain as a floating fixture to maximise scheduling flexibility for the first week of the 2014 Toyota AFL Finals Series.
Mr Lethlean said the AFL’s primary marketing and events focus of the season would vary across a range of events and initiatives for the season – some as specific games, some as complete rounds of matches.
Opening Round, Anzac Day and Indigenous Round (round 11) will all draw a focus as key events through the season while in 2014 the AFL and Clubs will conduct a range of industry and community events and initiatives across the season to celebrate the role women play in the game at all levels, while the two weekends of round 18 will be focussed to connect directly with local communities to promote and enhance accessibility of the game.
The AFL, Clubs and various corporate and community partners will work together across the season to conduct a number of specific events and activities focusing on other important pillars of the game, including: big local rivalries such as the Q-Clash and the Sydney Derby; matches themed specifically for kids and younger fans; and other significant events in specific markets.
Mr Lethlean said all clubs had been contacted in relation to their fixture over the last fortnight with the document completed after discussions with the AFL's broadcast partners - the Seven Network, Foxtel/Fox Footy – and venues, all of whom he wished to thank for their support and work over the last few months.
For fans seeking to book travel for next year’s fixture, Any Game Anywhere is the AFL’s official destination for fans to tailor their ultimate footy getaway.The website provides access to tickets for every game, Virgin Australia airfares, a wide range of accommodation and tourist attractions anywhere AFL games are being played in 2014.
For a full fixture visit the AFL Website