Sport AFL AFL fine-tuning fixture in bid to defy COVID-19

AFL fine-tuning fixture in bid to defy COVID-19

Barrackers are aching to see the stars of the game take the field once more. Photo: AAP
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AFL fans are expected to be given clarity on the make-up of the 2020 season restart as soon as Monday, with the league poised to announce the first phase of fixtures.

The new schedule of matches will likely be released in four-week blocks, allowing the AFL flexibility to adapt to changing coronavirus restrictions later in the year.

The restart to competition follows weeks of negotiations between the AFL, state governments, health authorities and clubs.

A clash between Victorian heavyweights Collingwood and Richmond is widely tipped to re-open the season on the confirmed restart date of June 11.

The AFL is reportedly considering a meeting of arch rivals Hawthorn and Geelong for the Friday night slot, while a Showdown in South Australia is also on the agenda.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide will likely clash on home soil before relocating to their temporary hub on the Gold Coast to play the rest of their matches in the first block of fixtures.

However, the Crows and the Power are hopeful further relaxation of SA travel restrictions will soon allow them to fly in and out of Adelaide.

West Coast and Fremantle are planning to spend a month in the Gold Coast hub, but there will be no Western Derby in the first block of fixtures.

The Eagles and the Dockers are hopeful they can go head-to-head in Perth later in the season.

It remains to be seen if fans will be allowed in the stands, but a stoush is already brewing over which club will be given derby hosting rights, and therefore handed a sponsorship and revenue boost.

Fremantle president Dale Alcock told ABC radio his club – which is in a more perilous financial position than the Eagles – would be “lobbying hard” for hosting rights.

“In terms of need I think Fremantle could mount a pretty strong case,” Alcock said.

“It could be a toss of the coin, who knows. Look, that’s one we’ll be lobbying hard for.”

The AFL will attempt to complete a shortened 153-game season before holding a regulation eight-team finals series, with the grand final likely to be played on October 24.