The AFL today released the fixture for the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, which will see a historic first-ever match for premiership points played outside Australian soil.
AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan and AFL General Manager Broadcasting, Scheduling and Legal Affairs Simon Lethlean released the fixture today, confirming St Kilda and reigning premiers the Sydney Swans will celebrate the historic links between our country and near neighbours New Zealand with an Anzac Day encounter in Wellington, following on from the traditional match-up between Essendon and Collingwood at the MCG.
The 2013 fixture will retain the key elements from 2012 with a 23-round season for all clubs to play 11 home and 11 away games. The season structure will have 20 standard rounds of nine matches and three rounds across rounds 11/12/13 where six matches will be played each week, enabling six clubs to have a bye in each round.
The 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season will open in South Australia for the first time since the inaugural year of the Adelaide Crows in 1991, when the Crows host Essendon at AAMI Stadium on Friday March 22, 2013. AAMI Stadium, which has served both SANFL football and AFL football wonderfully well for nearly four decades, will have its final year as an AFL venue in 2013 and was selected to open the season for this reason, while Port Adelaide will play the last home and away match at the venue against Carlton in round 23.
Round One will be played across two weekends with a Fremantle / West Coast Derby to follow on Saturday March 23, before the remaining seven matches are played across the Easter period.
A total of 198 home and away matches of season 2013 will be played in venues throughout every state and territory, with matches outside the regular capital cities to be played in Cairns (one), Darwin (two), Hobart (two) Canberra (three) and Launceston (four), as well as the game in New Zealand.
Mr McLachlan said the fixture was constructed with the primary aim to maximise attendances at all matches to enable fans to access the game in strong numbers, as well as to continue to build the AFL game as the number one code in this country.
"The fixture has many constraints, which are well-known to our fans and across the competition, and therefore we work to provide all clubs with the opportunity to contest the finals and deliver a great outcome for all key stakeholders in the AFL competition – players, clubs, officials, broadcast partners, key sponsors, venues, state affiliates and Federal and State governments," Mr McLachlan said.
"Equity around the fixture, when all teams do not play each other both home and away, is a key priority and we have endeavoured to match teams as best we can, barring any radical form changes that may occur between the 2012 and 2013 years," he said.
Mr Lethlean said the AFL has followed several key tenets around fixture equity as follows:
- The top eight teams from 2012 would all only play the bottom two teams of 2012 (Greater Western Sydney Giants, Gold Coast Suns) on one occasion in 2013, with the single exception of the Swans/Giants cross-town rivalry, and the AFL had aimed to limit the number of times that the top four sides from this year (Sydney, Hawthorn, Adelaide and Collingwood) played the bottom four teams from 2012;
- The 10 non-finalists from 2012 were all scheduled to have a maximum of two return meetings with top eight sides from 2012.
- Where possible the eight finalists from 2012 were all programmed to have a maximum of two return meetings with bottom-10 sides from 2012.
“A standard round, as part of our agreement with the Seven Network and Foxtel/FOX FOOTY, will continue to feature one Friday night match, two Saturday afternoon matches, one Saturday twilight match, two Saturday night matches, one early Sunday match, one Sunday afternoon match and one Sunday twilight match,” Mr Lethlean said.
Key features of the 2013 Toyota AFL Premiership Season include:
• Opening Round to be played over two weeks, commencing on March 22, with a Friday night match between the Adelaide Crows and Essendon, followed by a WA derby featuring Fremantle and the West Coast Eagles on the Saturday night.
• Round 1 to continue over Easter, from March 28-April 1, with Carlton to host Richmond in the season’s first match at the MCG on Easter Thursday, March 28. Reigning premiers the Sydney Swans will face off against cross-town rivals the GWS GIANTS at ANZ Stadium on Saturday twilight, while 2012 runners-up Hawthorn and the Geelong Cats will close out the holiday weekend with an Easter Monday blockbuster at the MCG.
• 2012 preliminary finalists Collingwood to host traditional rivals Carlton and former Magpies premiership coach Mick Malthouse on Sunday afternoon at the MCG in Round 2.
• Sydney Swans to unfurl the premiership flag at the SCG in Round 2 against the Gold Coast Suns in their first match ever at the SCG.
• Six matches to be played in Tasmania, with North Melbourne to again play two home matches at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena, against the Sydney Swans (Round 3) and Port Adelaide (Round 6), while Hawthorn will play four matches at Launceston’s Aurora Stadium, hosting Fremantle (Round 4), GWS GIANTS (Round 8), Brisbane Lions (Round 14) and Western Bulldogs (Round 17).
• GWS GIANTS to host three matches at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, in Rounds 3 (under lights for the first time), 5 and 15, against St Kilda, the Gold Coast SUNS and Western Bulldogs respectively.
• Two matches at TIO Stadium in Darwin with Western Bulldogs hosting Port Adelaide in Round 10 and Melbourne hosting Brisbane Lions in Round 17.
• The now traditional Richmond vs. Gold Coast Suns match at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns will take place on Saturday, July 13, with Richmond looking for its first win against the Suns.
• Two Friday night matches to be played at the SCG, with the Sydney Swans to host the Geelong Cats in Round 4 and Carlton in Round 14.
• Essendon’s turn to host Collingwood on ANZAC Day at the MCG, with the match to be played on the holiday Thursday.
• Fremantle to host the traditional Len Hall tribute match in Perth on Friday, April 26, hosting Richmond as part of ANZAC Round.
• The rematch between 2012 Toyota AFL Grand Final opponents the Sydney Swans and Hawthorn to take place on Saturday night in Round 7 at the MCG, before a return meeting in the final round of the season at ANZ Stadium.
• Two Monday night matches to be played, between St Kilda and Carlton in Round 7 at Etihad Stadium, and the West Coast Eagles and Richmond in Round 10 at Patersons Stadium.
• Indigenous Round to be celebrated in Round 9, highlighted by the showpiece Richmond vs. Essendon “Dreamtime at the ‘G” match on the Saturday night.
• The Gabba to see football played under Friday night lights, when the Brisbane Lions take on Collingwood in Round 10.
• The Geelong Cats to play the Gold Coast SUNS at the redeveloped Simonds Stadium when the venue reopens in Round 10 under lights for the first time at the venue on Saturday night. The Cats will then play a further six matches at the venue in the latter half of the home and away season.
• A mid-season break for all clubs to be spread across Rounds 11, 12 and 13. Six matches will be played in each round, enabling six clubs to enjoy a bye across each of the three weeks.
• Melbourne and Collingwood to meet in the traditional Queen’s Birthday Monday holiday match at the MCG in Round 11.
• Thursday night football to again be played in Perth, with the West Coast Eagles to host Essendon at Patersons Stadium in Round 14.
• Three games to be played at ANZ Stadium, including a derby between the Giants and Swans (Round 1), and blockbusters featuring the Sydney Swans up against Collingwood (Round 20) and Hawthorn (Round 23).
• Intra-state rivalries in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales to including two Q-Clashes between the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS (Rounds 3 and 15), two derbies between the West Coast Eagles and Fremantle (Rounds 1 and 16), two showdowns between the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide (Rounds 3 and 19) and two derbies between the Sydney Swans and GWS GIANTS (Rounds 1 and 16).
• Matches scheduled both home and away between strong-drawing Victorian clubs to maximise attendances and television audiences – Carlton-Richmond (Rounds 1 and 21); Hawthorn-Geelong Cats (Rounds 1 and 15); Carlton-Collingwood (Rounds 2 and 15); Collingwood-Hawthorn (Rounds 3 and 21); Essendon-Collingwood (Rounds 5 and 19); Richmond-Essendon (Rounds 9 and 23) and Carlton-Essendon (Rounds 11 and 22).
• No teams to play each other for the second time until after Round 10. There must also be a minimum of six weeks between clubs’ first and second meetings.
• All clubs to play each other once by Round 22.
• Minimum six-day break for all clubs between each match, with exceptions only for ANZAC Day.
• All Victorian-based clubs to travel interstate on a minimum of five occasions.
• All clubs to play at least one match at the MCG, as part of a minimum five in Victoria.
• Round 23 matches to remain as a floating fixture to maximise scheduling flexibility for the first week of the 2013 Toyota AFL Finals Series.
Mr Lethlean said all clubs had been contacted in relation to their fixture over the last fortnight with the document completed after discussions with the AFL's broadcast partners - the Seven Network, Fox Footy and Telstra – and venues.
For fans seeking to book travel for next year’s fixture, Any Game Anywhere is the AFL’s official destination for fans to tailor their ultimate footy getaway. The website provides access to tickets for every game, Virgin Australia airfares, a wide range of accommodation and tourist attractions anywhere AFL games are being played in 2013.
The website will be loaded with the 2013 fixture and available for sale on release of the fixture at www.anygameanywhere.com.au.
*The round by round and individual club fixtures are attached.
AFL Media Manager