The 2020 AFLW schedule was announced at Melbourne’s Moorabbin Oval, St Kilda’s administration and training base, on October 29, two days before the AFL schedule was revealed. The new season sees the introduction of four expansion teams (Richmond, St Kilda, Gold Coast and West Coast) making it a 14-team competition. The controversial conference system, introduced in the 2019 season, has been retained, with seven teams each in the conference.
The big winners when the AFL announced the 2020 schedule on October 31 included Richmond, Collingwood, Essendon, the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane. Richmond will play on Thursday nights in first two rounds of the season as well as six Friday night games, while Collingwood will appear on Thursday night three times and Friday night five times. The Bulldogs scored five and the Lions earned four Thursday or Friday night games - up from just one for each club this year, as reward for their form improvements during the season. Essendon will play four Thursday night games and two Friday night games. At the other end of the scale, St Kilda and North Melbourne will each make one appearance on a Friday, with Fremantle and Gold Coast missing out on both prime time slots.
Collingwood and Essendon have emerged as big winners of the 2019 AFL schedule, sharing more than a dozen marquee games on Friday nights and public holidays. The highly-anticipated scheduled was due to be revealed on October 31, but was pushed back by 24 hours after some clubs raised concerns to the League regarding the schedule, having received a draft at the start of the week.
The 2019 AFLW schedule was announced at Victoria Park in Melbourne (the spiritual home of Collingwood Football Club) on October 26. The season will see the debut of two expansion clubs, Geelong and North Melbourne, bringing the number of AFL clubs with women’s teams to ten. As announced by the AFL in September, the AFLW will introduce a conference system, with the ten competing teams divided into the creatively named Conference A and Conference B.
There was two surprises in the 2018 schedule revealed at the end of October. First surprise was that Carlton, which finished 16th at the end of 2017 season, were given four Friday night games next year, while 15th placed North Melbourne missed out on Friday night action along with Brisbane, Fremantle and Gold Coast. In the past couple of years, Friday night games were allocated to clubs which had the best on-field form in the previous season. AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan admitted it was worth a gamble to give the Blues so many Friday night games next year, because they are building a strong team and are well coached by Brendon Bolton.
The AFL has released the schedule for the 2018 JLT Community Series, with several variations from previous years. One major change is that each club will only play two instead of three games during the period. Since the AFL preseason was revamped in 2014 with no ranking or overall winner, each AFL club was allocated three practice games during the period.
The first ever AFL game (men or women) to be held at the brand new Perth Stadium is the main feature of the 2018 AFLW schedule. Fremantle’s twilight game against Collingwood on Saturday February 10 will be played at the 60,000-capacity stadium. The National Rugby League had announced in late August that a doubleheader would be held at Perth Stadium on March 10, 2018 (confirmed in early October to be Canterbury v Melbourne and South Sydney v New Zealand Warriors), however the AFL responded in mid September, scheduling the Dockers’ first home game in Round 2 at the new venue to make sure it will be the first football code to be played there.
The 2020 AFL Women's Schedule:
(dates and times are local in Australia)
Next year's AFL schedule, released in Melbourne on October 27, will set many firsts: first ever Good Friday game, first ever regular season game to be held in China, first ever Friday night game in Canberra (and for GWS), and first ever regular season game to be played in Ballarat in western Victoria. North Melbourne has been campaigning for Good Friday Football for nearly 30 years, before the club's wish is finally granted with a game against defending Premiers Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in Round 4 next year. AFL General Manager of Clubs and Operations Travis Auld says the game would start at 4.20 PM AEST (2.20 AM US EDT) to ensure it does not conflict with major religious services on the day. The League is already in talks with the Royal Children's Hospital and broadcasters Channel Seven and Fox Footy about how the game could help promote the Good Friday Appeal, which is the annual fundraiser for the hospital and broadcast all day on Seven in Melbourne.
The 2016 AFL schedule was announced last week. The biggest change is the addition of a bye week between the end of Round 23 and the Finals. In Round 23 this year, Fremantle and North Melbourne controversially rested a total of 20 players so they could be refreshed for the Finals. AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan conceded the moves by the two clubs were unsatisfactory and "a drag on the integrity of our competition", thus the extra week off was introduced to ensure similar situations would not happen again. The League plans to showcase a range of events and awards during the bye week, which could include a women's game, the All-Australian Awards and Rising Star Awards.
Once again, traditional rivals Richmond and Carlton will kick off the season with a Thursday night clash at the MCG on March 24, the day before Good Friday. Five days later Hawthorn will begin their Premiership defense at the same venue, against a new-look Geelong side which will likely include recruits Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Selwood and Lachie Henderson. For the second year in a row, the Grand Final will be held in the first Saturday in October. Next year it falls on October 1.