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Jehovah's Witness event to push back draft date

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AN INTERNATIONAL religious event at Marvel Stadium is set to see this year's NAB AFL Draft pushed back from its regular time slot.

The international convention of Jehovah's Witnesses has been booked at the Docklands venue from Friday, November 22 to Sunday, November 24 this year.

The three-day event is expected to attract a crowd of up to 70,000 each day, with delegates from over 60 countries in attendance.

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The AFL in recent years has aimed to run the draft in the second last week of November, but will likely hold it a week later closer to December to fit around the Jehovah's Witnesses event.

The League has only a small two-week window to stage the draft, given it has to be after the national year 12 exams have finished and before December, when clubs are keen to introduce their new faces before their Christmas breaks.

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Last year the AFL held the first round of the draft on Thursday, November 22 before running the rest of the national draft, and the rookie draft, the following day.

Clubs were allocated individual corporate boxes at Marvel Stadium, where for the first time they were able to trade picks with rivals during the draft.

The AFL is tipped to again use Marvel Stadium as the venue for the draft after positive feedback from clubs about the format.

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However it will adjust the timing of the draft for the Jehovah's Witnesses event, which is a lucrative windfall for the League given its ownership of the ground.

It last hosted the convention in 2014, when crowds flocked to Melbourne, and has had a long-standing agreement to return in 2019.

The draft returned to Melbourne last year after being staged out of Victoria – in Gold Coast, Adelaide and Sydney – since 2010.

Adelaide currently holds the top pick in this year's draft, having swapped first-round selections with bottom-placed Carlton in their much-discussed trade during last year's draft as they pushed up the board to snare Liam Stocker.