The AFL has released the 2021 schedule but with only confirmed dates and times for the first six rounds. After the entire 2020 season was hugely impacted by COVID-19, the League opted to continue flexible scheduling in 2021 in case of another outbreak in Australia, and to ensure the season would be completed. Exact dates and times for the remaining 17 rounds will be released in four-to-six week blocks with four weeks’ notice. The schedule for Round 7 is expected to be announced at the conclusion of Round 2 on March 28th.
With the season set to restart on June 11th and the next four rounds now scheduled, there are logistical issues facing multiple clubs regarding travel. Both Essendon and North Melbourne are scheduled to play in New South Wales on the same day in round two. Essendon against the Swans and North against Greater Western Sydney. While travel arrangements are not confirmed, it appears Essendon and North will share a chartered jet to Sydney and return the same day.
After last week’s announcement by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan that the 2020 season would resume on June 11th, the League revealed the schedule for Rounds 2-5 on Monday afternoon (AEST). As widely expected, Richmond and Collingwood would kick off Round 2 on Thursday, June 11th, followed by Geelong hosting Hawthorn on Friday night, June 12th, the first time since round 3, 2006, that the two teams will clash at the Cats’ home ground of GMHBA Stadium.
Brisbane and Fremantle will meet at the Gabba on Saturday June 13th, followed by Carlton and Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. On Saturday night, Gold Coast will host West Coast while Adelaide will take on Port Adelaide in the Showdown at Adelaide Oval, before the two teams relocate their operation bases to the Gold Coast. The Showdown game was made possible after the South Australian Government allowed Crows and Port players to complete full contact training at home. Because there are currently no senior field umpires based in Adelaide, four umpires will fly into the city this week to undergo 14 days of quarantine before the game.
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.
The 2022 AFL Fixture
also known as the "Draw" or schedule of matches: