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AFL 'cocked up' finals fixture, says McGuire

Toby's green light, Eddie fires up Footy Feed with Matt Thompson, Nat Edwards and Mitch Cleary
You can't make a rule on the one week and then change it going into the preliminary finals
Eddie McGuire

COLLINGWOOD president Eddie McGuire has called on the AFL to change its fixture for the preliminary finals after saying the League had "cocked up" its scheduling.

The winner of the Pies and Giants' semi-final will have only a six-day break heading into the preliminary final.

The victor of this Saturday night's clash at the MCG between the Magpies and Greater Western Sydney will then play Richmond the following Friday night again at the MCG in a bid to make the Grand Final.

That team will be just the third in 19 years to enter a preliminary final on the back of a six-day break, which has angered McGuire.

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"Correct me if we were wrong, but didn’t we just get told the reason we had a Thursday [night] set-up was to ensure that every team would get a seven-day break?" McGuire said on Triple M on Monday morning.

"It's mitigated by the fact that in doing so they wanted to make sure the top team in Richmond quite rightfully gets an extra day [off]. But you can't change horses mid-stream, because it doesn't make any sense. If that was the case then Collingwood should have played West Coast on Thursday or Friday night.

"We know they couldn't do it on Thursday night because it was a school day so that's fair enough, but a Friday night game starting at six o'clock over there which is what happens every other Friday night you play in Perth, would've worked out.

"You can't make a rule on the one week and then change it going into the preliminary finals. They have completely cocked this up, the AFL."

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The AFL's fixture manager Travis Auld defended the move, saying the League had prioritised the Tigers given they finished on top of the ladder at the end of the home and away season.

"There's a couple of principles we adopt and the first one is the minor premier, should they win the first week, they earnt the right to the first preliminary final on the Friday night," Auld said.

"When you do that you have to make a decision: do you give the team coming back from Western Australia a six-day break heading into next week and then seven days into the prelim? Or, as we did, a seven-day break after the Perth game and then six days into the prelim? That's how it's structured up."

McGuire responded to that by saying the AFL "make it up as you go" and asked Auld where in the rule book it said the League would give preference to the minor premiers when fixturing the finals.

Richmond will have a 15-day break between its qualifying final and preliminary final and then and eight-day gap between the preliminary final and Grand Final should it progress to the premiership decider.

McGuire said West Coast, and the winner of the semi-final between Melbourne and Hawthorn, would be disadvantaged by the decision to play the Eagles' preliminary final on Saturday night.

"It's just wrong. You guys have got this one wrong. If you flip the preliminary finals, everybody gets a seven-day break. And the teams coming back from Western Australia can come back on the Friday night on the red eye [flight] if they want or come back on the Saturday morning," McGuire said in a heated exchange with Auld.

"You've landed on the wrong spot. You've got two weeks to change it. Why don't you have another meeting this morning and have another look. It won't happen? Why, because the fixture's been so good all year? How about we fix the fixture for the finals and make it even for everyone to have ago at winning the flag.

 

"For god's sake mate, you're going to disadvantage three teams going into a Grand Final for no reason."

Auld said the AFL would not be changing its fixture, adding it was in discussions with partner airline Virgin Australia to ensure Hawthorn or Melbourne would be able to fly back to Victoria on Saturday after the preliminary final against West Coast.

Collingwood was gallant in defeat against the Eagles in Saturday night's qualifying final at Optus Stadium, being overrun by 16 points after leading by 10 points at the final change.

The Giants were also impressive as they stormed to a 49-point win over Sydney at the SCG.

The winner of the semi-final clash will take on a red-hot Richmond after the Tigers were far too strong against Hawthorn on Thursday night.