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CEOs meeting details, 17-6 fixture plan, play every team once, mid-season trade period, latest news

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The AFL’s meeting with club CEOs has included discussion around a radical fixture revamp, attempting to equalise the home and away season for good.

The league discussed several key football topics over the course of a day and a half at Werribee Mansion, and SEN first reported the chat included a potential change to a ‘17-6’ fixture.

It would see every team play each other once over the first 17 rounds, before the ladder was separated into three brackets of six teams.

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From Round 18 onwards, the top six would play each other, the middle six would play each other – potentially fighting for the last two spots in the top eight – and the bottom six would play each other.

It would be a more equitable fixture and ensure the end-of-season games have high stakes, without punishing teams who perform well over the first 17 games.

It would also mean teams can’t cash in on getting to play the worst teams, such as this year’s West Coast and North Melbourne, twice.

The introduction of Gather Round created a 23rd game, which could be used as a rivalry round (outside of the 6-6-6 brackets system) to ensure Derbies and Showdowns still happen twice a season.

EXAMPLE FIXTURE (Based on current ladder)

Port Adelaide (2nd after 17 games)

Rounds 1-17: 8 home games, 8 away games plus Gather Round, playing every other team once

Round 18: Bye

Rounds 19-24: 3 home games, 3 away games playing Collingwood (1st), Brisbane (3rd), Melbourne (4th), Geelong (5th), St Kilda (6th) and Adelaide (rivalry game)

Final ladder position determined by full-season results, but cannot fall out of top six (where they were after 17 games)

Also discussed was the potential introduction of a wildcard round for the finals, potentially pitting 7th vs 10th and 8th vs 9th for spots in the elimination finals.

However it’s unlikely the wildcard round and 17-6 fixture would both be implemented.

A mid-season trade period was also discussed with clubs asking whether moves should be restricted to only include player-for-player trades, whether only players under a certain salary could be moved, and whether the deals would impact salary caps.

The AFL is hopeful of implementing a mid-season trade period as early as 2024 but would need to first iron out these details.

There was little support for the return of men’s representative football, like State of Origin, but more positivity around an AFLW Origin match.

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