COACHES have expressed concern that the post-season bye might compromise their team's finals preparations.
The issue was discussed during last Tuesday's informal dinner at AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan's house that was attended by nine AFL coaches from Victorian-based clubs.
While the coaches are understood to have accepted the logic behind the decision to introduce the bye, they did express concern at the difficulty the bye presented, given the two top-four teams who win their first final will play just one game in a month leading into the preliminary final.
Teams who win their qualifying final this season will play just one game between August 29 and September 23.
There is varying views as to whether this is an advantage for those who earn the quickest passage into the preliminary final.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said on Monday there was an argument that it could be a disadvantage winning that qualifying final given the bye before the finals.
"The huge advantage that the top-two teams get winning in the first week is mitigated to some extent," Scott said.
"There is an argument to say that missing two weeks in three or four is arguably going to count against you.
"My view personally is that the advantage of winning in the first week has always been too great so maybe we're just evening the playing field, but that does suggest, at least in theory, that winning outside the top four this year might be easier than in previous (years)."
Essendon famously had 22 days between its final game in 1990 and the second semi final against Collingwood, which it lost by 63 points, when the Magpies played a qualifying final replay against West Coast.
Collingwood won its first premiership for 32 years when it defeated the underdone Bombers a fortnight later.
The AFL introduced the bye after last year's final round was marred when North Melbourne rested nine players in round 23 before beating Richmond in the elimination final.
In that situation, finals positions were virtually set, however with six teams on 10 wins heading into round 16, the race for spots is likely to go down to the wire.
McLachlan said on the eve of the season the bye was essential to protect the integrity of the game.
"The bigger risk occurs if you continue to let what happened last year happen and put the integrity of the competition at risk," McLachlan said.
The AFL has scheduled the E.J. Whitten Legends game on Friday night, a women's game between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night, as well as the Virgin Australia All Australian and NAB AFL Rising Star functions during the period.
It is also hopeful media coverage of teams participating in finals will also maintain momentum and interest in what could be a big build-up.
Although the mid-season bye is considered to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of players, there is little obvious benefit for players in having a bye post-season.