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18 games in 18 days: AFL ponders pre-season bonanza

Peter Ryan  October 15, 2013 2:04 PM

AFL 2013 NAB Grand Final - Carlton v Brisbane

The Brisbane Lions could find themselves the final winners of the NAB Cup pre-season premiership

FOOTBALL could fill the late-summer sporting calendar if a proposed pre-season bonanza gets AFL approval.

The AFL is considering playing 18 games in 18 consecutive days in 2014 as part of its radical overhaul of the NAB pre-season series.  

Each team would play two games in the 18 days.

The unbroken run of games to welcome football's return would be a huge relaunch of the revamped pre-season series and put the game right back into the headlines.

In recent years, the first round of the NAB Cup has been played over two weekends with nine abbreviated games on each weekend, allowing fans to ease into the football season.

However the proposed format for 2014 involves an unbroken run of games being played for two and a half weeks, followed by a potential representative game and intra-club matches in the final week of the pre-season. This final round of games normally takes place weeks before the premiership season starts.

An AFL spokesperson confirmed the option was one being considered but a final decision on the format was unlikely until next week.

This would replace the NAB Cup competition that was played over five weeks and culminated in a Grand Final.

The AFL first raised the possibility of revitalising the pre-season period when it asked clubs for feedback in May.

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said at the time that a five-week pre-season period, plus 22 premiership season games and a finals series was worth re-examining.

"It is important for us to again discuss whether change is required, or do we retain the status quo?" Demetriou said.

The AFL Commission approved in August the revamping of the pre-season competition so it featured two matches per club, scheduled nationally, and asked for a representative game format to be considered in place of the NAB Cup Grand Final.

The competition would continue to focus on playing NAB Cup games in regional areas that don't normally host premiership matches, as well as playing games in metropolitan areas and managing the travel loads of teams. understands preliminary discussions about playing 18 games in 18 days with the broadcaster, Foxtel, have been encouraging.

With games to be played in both regional and metropolitan regions, it would be a huge undertaking for any broadcaster.

However it would also be expected to create excitement and add a novel element to the pre-season series, particularly with no NAB Cup Grand Final being played.

No announcement on a decision is expected until the pre-season and premiership season fixture is launched at the end of the month.