Now, That’s Where You’re Wrong!

NOW, THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE WRONG!

 

In an effort to bring clarity, and an opposing view to an argument that may seem settled, Clinton Bishop will take your arguments and offer an alternative view. Is he the Devil’s advocate, or the Devil himself? I guess it depends on which side of the fence you sit.

 

This week – The compromised season.

 

There has been a lot of talk on this page over the last couple of weeks about the 2020 premiership having an asterisk against it (if it is awarded at all) due to the number of compromises the AFL is proposing to the fixture in order to get some football played.

Well people, I’m here to tell you, that’s where you’re wrong.

The AFL fixture has always been compromised.

Ever since the then-VFL expanded the competition to include teams from WA and Queensland without adjusting the length of the season they have been compromising the fixture. Mostly, they have done this with one thing in mind: money. This year they are doing it with two things in mind, health and money so at least there is some growth there. They have steadily expanded the competition to 18 teams in the intervening 30-odd years without any effort to balance the fixture, all the while introducing further compromises for, you guessed it: Money.

Allow me to provide you some examples:

 

Teams meeting for the first time in Round 21

Go through any year’s fixture and you’ll find it; your team has played nearly everyone, some of them twice, but then late in the year you’ll get to face one team for the first time. In 2019 it happened with Richmond and West Coast, the last two premiers not playing till very late and only meeting once.

When the fixture finally arrived it was a great contest between two worthy foes, but why did we have to wait? Surely games like that should open the season, which brings me to…

 

The Thursday night “traditional” round one blockbuster of Carlton & Richmond.

This game has effectively allowed Richmond to bank four points every year as Carlton have struggled through their various issues. The AFL calls it a blockbuster because it draws a good crowd and has huge TV ratings, of course by March on a Thursday night we are so footy hungry we would watch any game you name.

 

Blockbusters and Rivalry games

Don’t get me wrong these are the games we all love but they definitely compromise the fixture. The clubs outside of Victoria playing twice, ANZAC, Dreamtime & Queens Birthday fixtures having to be at the same time each year and between the same teams. The clubs and the AFL have done a fantastic job to build these games into events – not just games, but this has come at the expense of developing an even fixture.

 

Selling Home Games (or selling four points)

Over a number of years, the AFL has allowed cash-strapped clubs to sell home games to interstate clubs. Most times this has meant the selling team has lost the game. I’m not talking about the Tasmania, NT or China games here. They deserve their own discussion.

 

China

No doubt the AFL and Port Adelaide love the idea of the world’s largest population becoming AFL fans and who doesn’t love a mid-year trip to China? Well, nobody now I guess, but the fact that the Gold Coast and St Kilda have been forced to give up a home game for cash in order to support this idea is just crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think either side would have beaten Port at home, but at the very least if Port wants to play there it should be their home game.

 

Tasmania

Although the good people of Tasmania would like their own AFL team, they are forced by the AFL to put up with two half-home teams. Coupled with this, the fixtures usually involve non-Melbourne clubs who after all don’t travel that far so what’s an extra flight, right?

Now in most cases in the last few years I would have chalked Hawthorn up for those wins at almost any venue, but I’m not so sure about North. In any event, it robs a club of the opportunity to play the MCG which gets pretty important come finals time.

 

So as I write, the AFL is working its way through a compromise of a different sort, who knows, we may not get any footy at all after Round One. With a proposed 17-Round fixture we may even get the most even fixture ever.

If we do get a season and we do get a premiership, there is one group of people who won’t care what the season looked like or the fixture compromises made along the way – the fans of the 2020 premiers.

As they say: Winners are Grinners and the rest can please themselves.