In the biggest media deal in Australian sporting history, the AFL announced on 6th of September that Channel Seven and Foxtel have retained the Australian domestic broadcast rights to men's and women's competitions for a further seven years, fending off strong challenges from rival channels Nine and 10. The new deal, which expires at the end of 2031 season, is worth a total of A$4.5 billion (US$3.08 billion) at an average of A$643 million per year, a large increase on the A$473 million per year figure for the two-year contract extension Seven and Foxtel signed with the League in 2020, at the height of COVID pandemic. The previous rights deal from 2017 and 2022, also with Seven and Foxtel, was worth A$2.5 billion. [Ed. note: This new deal does not immediately affect coverage in the US and Canada which are covered by pre-existing contracts extending beyond this season. The current AFL deal with Fox Sports US has a mutual renewal option for the 2023 season.]
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 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.