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Collingwood 2023 (AFANA/Kim Densham)

The AFL released its 2024 schedule on Thursday, 16th November, although some details were revealed in the days prior. A new feature is a four-game Opening Round in early March to promote Aussie Rules in NSW and Queensland. Sydney Swans will host the season opener against Melbourne at Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday night, 7th March. It will only be the second time in AFL history that the first game of the season is played in the Harbour City (the first time was 2012). The following night (Friday 8th March) sees Brisbane facing Carlton at The Gabba in a rematch of this year's preliminary final. On Saturday, 9th March, Gold Coast will host Richmond in late afternoon, pitting new coach Damien Hardwick against his former club for the first time. The game will also mark the senior coaching debut of new Tigers coach Adem Yze. It will be followed by a Saturday night game between GWS and Collingwood in another preliminary final rematch. The eight teams involved in Opening Round will have a bye at some point between Round 2 and Round 6, meaning all 18 clubs will have played the same number of games by the start of Round 7. All clubs will have a bye across the four weeks between Rounds 12 and 15.

A full Round 1, featuring all 18 clubs, will kick off on Thursday, 14th March with the traditional Carlton v Richmond game at the MCG.

Collingwood will unfurl their premiership flag before their opening game against Sydney at the same ground on Friday, 15th March. Similar to the past three seasons, while the venues had been set, the League has only confirmed the dates and times for the first 16 rounds. The schedule for Round 16 to Round 24 will be progressively revealed during 2024 with advance notice.

There will be 14 Thursday night games in 2024, up from 11 this year, as the result of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the League and the AFL Players Association. These Thursday night games will be played across Opening Round and Round 1-13, rather than in two separate lots as in previous seasons. The addition of Opening Round, as well as an increase in Thursday night games, has led to a 64 per cent reduction in overlapping games compared to the first 15 rounds in 2023.

Carlton have been rewarded for their appearance at this year’s preliminary final with a whopping eight games on Thursday or Friday in the first 16 rounds, including the Good Friday clash against North Melbourne. Grand Finalist Brisbane feature in seven Thursday or Friday night games, while Adelaide have six, with the Showdown against Port Adelaide to be played on a Thursday night for the first time, in Round 8. Collingwood will also play six games on Thursday and Friday nights. After finishing 13th this year, Richmond have been snubbed from Friday night altogether, and have just two Thursday night games in 2024. Hawthorn and West Coast are the only two clubs to miss out on a Thursday and Friday night timeslot in the first 16 rounds.

Gather Round returns to Adelaide in Round 4, after the enormous success of this year’s event with more than 77,000 fans attending the nine games played across the region. Next year’s Gather Round begins on Thursday night, 4th April, with the Crows hosting the Demons in Adelaide Oval, while Port Adelaide play against Essendon at the same venue the following night. Five games will be played at Adelaide Oval, while Norwood Oval will host Brisbane v North Melbourne on Friday afternoon and Richmond v St Kilda on Sunday afternoon; Mount Barker in Adelaide Hills will host Sydney v West Coast on Saturday afternoon and Gold Coast v GWS on Sunday lunchtime. The round concludes with Collingwood versus Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on Sunday twilight, which will be Hawks signing Jack Ginnivan’s first game against his former Pies premiership teammates.

The AFL’s new agreement with the Northern Territory Government will see three games played in the NT per season for the next three years – two by Gold Coast in Darwin and one by Melbourne in Alice Springs every year until 2026. In 2024, the Suns will play back-to-back games at TIO Stadium in Darwin, against North Melbourne on the Saturday night of Round 9 and against the Cats on Thursday, 16th May to start Round 10 (Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round). It will be the first game Geelong play a premiership game in the Top End. Melbourne will then host a Sunday afternoon encounter against Fremantle in Alice Springs in Round 12.

Playing times of a large number of AFL games will change in 2024. Most Friday night games will start at 7.40PM Melbourne time (5.40AM US EDT), which is 10 minutes earlier than the usual 7.50PM (5.50AM US EDT) start time, while Thursday night and Saturday night games will usually begin at 7.30PM Melbourne time (5.30AM US EDT). AFL CEO Andrew Dillon said the decision to move Friday night to an earlier start was made after spending time gathering feedback from fans and working in partnership with host broadcaster Channel Seven. Sundays are largely overlap free across the first 15 rounds, with many doubleheaders starting at 1PM and 4PM Melbourne time (11PM US EDT Saturday or 2AM US EDT Sunday) respectively, before reverting to 1.10PM and 4.40PM from Round 10 onwards.

Other features of the 2024 schedule include:

  • Adelaide, Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda will have two five-day breaks in the first 16 rounds, while Essendon, Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Sydney and West Coast have no five-day breaks.
  • There will be at least two Sunday night games during the regular season, featuring the Qclash between Brisbane and Gold Coast at The Gabba in Round 8, and Essendon hosting archrival Carlton at the MCG in Round 13, the night before King’s Birthday public holiday in Victoria.
  • Friday night doubleheader returns in Round 9, with Geelong against Port Adelaide at GMHBA Stadium at 7.10PM (5.10AM US EDT), to be followed 70 minutes later by the Fremantle-Sydney clash at Optus Stadium.
  • There will be a double-header on Good Friday, 29th March, with North Melbourne hosting Carlton before Fremantle takes on Adelaide at Optus Stadium later that night.
  • The Anzac Round starts on 24th April between Richmond and Melbourne at the MCG, the only Wednesday game of the regular season. The two games on Anzac Day, Thursday 25th April feature the annual Bombers-Pies clash at the MCG, followed by Greater Western Sydney hosting Brisbane in Canberra.
  • The first Western Derby will be Round 6, while the Sydney Derby and QClash are both in Round 8.

AFL’s Head of Broadcasting and Scheduling, Josh Bowler, said: “After a record-breaking attendance of more than eight million fans through the gates in 2023, we are thrilled to deliver a fixture that is aimed at maximizing match day attendance and television viewership, as well as being the fairest possible fixture for all 18 clubs in their pursuit of the PremiershipOpening Round has given us a unique opportunity to create momentum ahead of the traditional Round 1 Thursday night fixture between Carlton and Richmond, allowing the league to build more marquee gamesWe always want to give our fans as much certainty as possible and these first 15 rounds have created key marquee games that our supporters can plan travel around and we will confirm dates and times for Rounds 16 to 23 about four to six weeks out, with Round 24 remaining floating.”

Here are the club-by-club summaries for the 2023 season (the number of Thursday and Friday games are up to the end of Round 15).

ADELAIDE

Play twice: Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Sydney, Essendon, Gold Coast, Hawthorn
First four: Gold Coast (Away), Geelong (Home), Fremantle (Away), Melbourne (Home)
Last three: Western Bulldogs (Home), Port Adelaide (Away), Sydney (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 6
Five-day breaks: 2
The Crows travel far and wide in the first seven rounds of the season, playing games in Gold Coast, Perth, Melbourne and Hobart. They play twice against 2023 finalists Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Sydney. The Crows will face the Swans twice in the second half of the season, in Round 14 and 24.

BRISBANE

Play twice: Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne, St Kilda, Adelaide, Gold Coast
First four: Carlton (Home), Fremantle (Away), Collingwood (Home), North Melbourne (Home)
Last three: Greater Western Sydney (Home), Collingwood (Away), Essendon (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 7
Five-day breaks: 1
The 2023 grand finalist has a tough schedule, playing twice against four fellow top eight teams (Pies, Giants, Demons and Saints). The good news for the Lions is that they will host three other preliminary finalists at home next year. The bad news is that they fly to Perth twice and Adelaide three times across the course of the season

CARLTON

Play twice: Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, North Melbourne
First four: Brisbane (Away), Richmond (Home), North Melbourne (Away), Fremantle (Away)
Last three: Hawthorn (Home), West Coast (Away), St Kilda (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 8
Five-day breaks: 1
The large majority of Carlton members will be in for a treat, with seven of the club’s first nine games to be played in Marvel Stadium and the MCG. In addition, three of the Blues’ opening four games are against members of last year’s bottom six (Richmond, Melbourne, Fremantle). They face a tricky final five rounds of the season, two of which are against this year’s bottom three, and three games against fellow finalists Port Adelaide, Collingwood and St Kilda.

COLLINGWOOD

Play twice: Brisbane, Carlton, Melbourne, Sydney, Essendon, Hawthorn
First four: Greater Western Sydney (Away), Sydney (Home), St Kilda (Away), Brisbane (Away)
Last three: Sydney (Away), Brisbane (Home), Melbourne (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 7
Five-day breaks: 1
The defending premiers have a tough start to the season, playing against six of this year’s finalists in the first eight rounds, including three interstate trips. Collingwood don’t play against Melbourne until their King’s Birthday clash, but the two teams will meet again in the final round. The middle part of the season is relatively easy with games against bottom half teams Eagles, Crows, Dockers, Bulldogs, Kangaroos and Suns. The Magpies will finish the season strongly with seven of the last eight at the MCG.

ESSENDON

Play twice: Collingwood, St Kilda, Sydney, Adelaide, Gold Coast, West Coast
First four: Hawthorn (Home), Sydney (Away), St Kilda (Home), Port Adelaide (Away)
Last three: Gold Coast (Home), Sydney (Home), Brisbane (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 4
Five-day breaks: 0
Essendon have four interstate trips in the first eight round of the season, including two to Adelaide over three weeks. The Bombers only cop one top-six team twice (Collingwood) in contrast to getting two bottom-four teams twice. They will spend most of second half of the season in Melbourne, but face a tough final round encounter against the Lions at The Gabba.

FREMANTLE

Play twice: Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, West Coast
First four: Brisbane (Home), North Melbourne (Away), Adelaide (Home), Carlton (Home)
Last three: Geelong (Home), Greater Western Sydney (Away), Port Adelaide (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 3
Five-day breaks: 1
Despite finishing 14th in 2023, Fremantle have been given a difficult schedule, with games against top six teams Brisbane, Carlton and Port Adelaide in the first five rounds before the derby against the Eagles in Round 6, and will finish the regular season with the return game against Port. The Dockers have back-to-back trips to Adelaide in Round 4 and 5, in addition to five visits to Melbourne, two trips to Sydney, plus games in Alice Springs and Launceston, but get both Brisbane and Gold Coast to head west without a return trip.

GEELONG

Play twice: Carlton, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Hawthorn, North Melbourne
First four: St Kilda (Home), Adelaide (Away), Hawthorn (Away), Western Bulldogs (Away)
Last three: Fremantle (Away), St Kilda (Away), West Coast (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 4
Five-day breaks: 1
After construction delay due to the quality of imported steel, the northern grandstand at GMHBA Stadium will open for the 2024 season opener against St Kilda. The new stand increases the stadium’s capacity to 40,000, allowing the Cats to host bigger name teams such as Richmond in Round 12 and Hawthorn in Round 17. Overall, the Cats will play nine home games at GMHBA Stadium and two home games at the MCG (against Carlton in Round 7 and Essendon in Round 16). They will play in every Australian state and territory except the Australian Capital Territory.

GOLD COAST

Play twice: Brisbane, Greater Western Sydney, Essendon, Richmond, North Melbourne, West Coast
First four: Richmond (Home), Adelaide (Home), Western Bulldogs (Away), Greater Western Sydney (Home)
Last three: Essendon (Away), Melbourne (Home), Richmond (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 1
Five-day breaks: 1
Damien Hardwick’s stint as Gold Coast coach begins with consecutive home games in the first two rounds, before back-to-back trips to Ballarat (to play the Bulldogs) and Adelaide Hills (to face GWS). The Suns have been given a not-too-difficult schedule, playing twice against only two finalists from this year (Brisbane and GWS) and twice against bottom teams North Melbourne and West Coast. The Suns will host Essendon and Collingwood in Round 12 and 16 respectively, which should attract decent crowds, with many fans travelling north from Melbourne. The team will be on the road from Round 9 to 11, including two games in Darwin.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Play twice: Brisbane, Carlton, Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast, Hawthorn
First four: Collingwood (Home), North Melbourne (Home), West Coast (Away), Gold Coast (Away)
Last three: Brisbane (Away), Fremantle (Home), Western Bulldogs (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 1
Five-day breaks: 1
GWS’ opening round clash against Collingwood will be the only encounter between the two teams in the regular season. The Giants will play twice against preliminary finalists Brisbane and Carlton. GWS will play its first two games at Giants Stadium in Sydney, before the venue is used for the annual Sydney Royal Easter Show, and won’t return until Round 10 when they face the Bulldogs. The three GWS home games in Canberra are against St Kilda in Round 5, Brisbane in Round 7 and Hawthorn in Round 21. The Lions game will only be the second time the Giants have taken to the field on Anzac Day, following their 2015 matchup with Gold Coast in 2015 at the same venue.

HAWTHORN

Play twice: Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Adelaide, Geelong, Richmond, North Melbourne
First four: Essendon (Away), Melbourne (Home), Geelong (Home), Collingwood (Away)
Last three: Carlton (Away), Richmond (Home), North Melbourne (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 0
Five-day breaks: 0
Hawthorn’s away game against Geelong marks the first time the Hawks will have travelled down the highway since 2006 (excluding the COVID-impacted seasons). The Hawks will host Brisbane at Marvel Stadium in Round 11, and play four home games in Tasmania, against St Kilda (Round 9), GWS (Round 13), Fremantle (Round 18), and North Melbourne in Round 24. The team’s other six home games will be at the MCG.

MELBOURNE

Play twice: Collingwood, Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, Fremantle, West Coast
First four: Sydney (Away), Western Bulldogs (Home), Hawthorn (Away), Port Adelaide (Away)
Last three: Port Adelaide (Home), Gold Coast (Away), Collingwood (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 4
Five-day breaks: 2
Melbourne has a difficult schedule, playing twice against in top six teams Collingwood, Port Adelaide and Brisbane. The Demons also have consecutive games at Adelaide Oval against the Power and the Crows. They will play 14 games at the MCG, of which 10 of them will be home games – and only play at Marvel Stadium once: Against the Western Bulldogs in Round 21. At least five of the Demons’ 14 MCG games will be played at night. 

NORTH MELBOURNE

Play twice: Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, West Coast
First four: Greater Western Sydney (Away), Fremantle (Home), Carlton (Home), Brisbane (Away)
Last three: West Coast (Home), Western Bulldogs (Away), Hawthorn (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 2
Five-day breaks: 0
North Melbourne has a relatively easy schedule, playing only once against 2023 finalist in Carlton, and double-ups against three other 2023 bottom-four teams – Hawthorn, Gold Coast and West Coast. The Roos will play five games in Tasmania, including home games in Hobart against Adelaide in Round 7, Port Adelaide in Round 11, Geelong in Round 20 and West Coast in Round 22, plus a visit to Launceston to face Hawthorn in the final round. The Roos also have trips to Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Sydney, but avoid a visit to Queensland.

PORT ADELAIDE

Play twice: Carlton, Melbourne, St Kilda, Adelaide, Richmond, Fremantle
First four: West Coast (Home), Richmond (Away), Melbourne (Home), Essendon (Home)
Last three: Melbourne (Away), Adelaide (Home), Fremantle (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 5
Five-day breaks: 1
Six of Port Adelaide’s first eight games will be at Adelaide Oval thanks to Gather Round and a home Crows Showdown. They have a tough schedule with two meetings against each of Adelaide, Melbourne and Carlton, plus a tricky mid season run against Carlton, GWS, Brisbane and St Kilda from Round 12 to 16 (they have a bye in Round 13). Like Geelong, Port will play in every Australian state and territory except the Australian Capital Territory.

RICHMOND

Play twice: Carlton, Port Adelaide, St Kilda, Fremantle, Gold Coast, Hawthorn
First four: Gold Coast (Away), Carlton (Away), Port Adelaide (Home), Sydney (Home)
Last three: St Kilda (Home), Hawthorn (Away), Gold Coast (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 2
Five-day breaks: 2
After finishing 13th this year, Richmond have been given a relatively easy schedule, with 14 games at the MCG including two hat-tricks on Round 1-3 and 7-9) early in the year before five straight games in Melbourne to end the season – and three of those games are against bottom-four teams from 2023. The Tigers will host a match at Marvel Stadium – against Marvel Stadium tenants St Kilda – in Round 22, while they’ll travel to GMHBA Stadium to face Geelong for premiership points for the first time since 2017. Then there’s three trips to Adelaide (including Gather Round), two to Perth and two to Queensland. 

ST KILDA

Play twice: Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Essendon, Geelong, Richmond, West Coast
First four: Geelong (Away), Collingwood (Home), Essendon (Away), Richmond (Away)
Last three: Richmond (Away), Geelong (Home), Carlton (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 4
Five-day breaks: 2
A decent 2024 schedule for St Kilda for making the finals this year, given four Thursday or Friday games before their Round 15 bye, including a Friday clash against Collingwood plus trips to Adelaide and Brisbane. The Pies clash is just one of two games at the MCG for the season, but eight of their final nine home and away games (including the last six) will be at Marvel Stadium. The Saints will also travel to Perth, Launceston and Canberra, but will skip Sydney.

SYDNEY

Play twice: Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Essendon, Fremantle
First four: Melbourne (Home), Collingwood (Away), Essendon (Home), Richmond (Away)
Last three: Collingwood (Home), Essendon (Away), Adelaide (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 5
Five-day breaks: 0
Sydney begin their post-Lance Franklin era with tough games against Melbourne and Collingwood, Essendon and Richmond, before playing bottom-four teams Eagles, Suns and Hawks before the first of two derbies against GWS. The Swans only play twice against 2023 finalists GWS and Collingwood. Conversely, the Swans are the only non-Victorian side to not have back-to-back home games next year. They have a tricky final six rounds including games against Lions, Pies and Port.

WEST COAST

Play twice: Melbourne, St Kilda, Essendon, Fremantle, Gold Coast, North Melbourne
First four: Port Adelaide (Away), Greater Western Sydney (Home), Western Bulldogs (Away), Sydney (Home)
Last three: North Melbourne (Away), Carlton (Home), Geelong (Away)
Thursday/Friday games: 0
Five-day breaks: 0
After finishing on the bottom of the ladder, West Coast have a tough start next year, playing three 2023 finalists (Port, GWS, Sydney) in the first month, and will travel to Geelong in the final round of the season. On the plus side, the Eagles have been given a relatively easy schedule, playing only once against 2023 finalist in Melbourne, and will play at home seven times from Round 5 to Round 16. They will also host Brisbane at Optus Stadium for the first time since the venue opened.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Play twice: Greater Western Sydney, Melbourne, Sydney, Geelong, Fremantle, North Melbourne
First four: Melbourne (Away), Gold Coast (Home), West Coast (Home), Geelong (Home)
Last three: Adelaide (Away), North Melbourne (Home), Greater Western Sydney (Home)
Thursday/Friday games: 5
Five-day breaks: 1
Next year, Mars Stadium in Ballarat will host the Bulldogs’ first home game (against Gold Coast in Round 2) and last home game (against GWS in Round 24). The Bulldogs will play their first three games and last two games in Victoria, and don’t travel interstate until Round 4. They will play 12 times at Marvel Stadium, including five in a row from Round 11 to Round 16 (they have the bye on Round 15). On the downside, they have consecutive games against the Giants, Swans, Magpies and Lions between Rounds 10 and 13 and a tough run home in the final two months of the season, playing five 2023 finalists - Power, Blues, Swans, Demons and Giants - plus the Cats and the Crows.

Sources: Kate Hutchison, AFL press release; sen.com.au, 7news.com.au, abc.net.au, club websites

Article last changed on Monday, December 04, 2023 - 8:53 AM EST


Comments

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Mark your calendars, dust off your guernseys, and get ready for an action-packed AFL season starting March 7! With an exciting slope Opening Round, new competitions, and plenty of twists and turns, 2024 promises to be a year to remember in the world of Australian Law. 

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