CALLS are growing for two Friday night games to be added to the AFL fixture as soon as next season.
Friday night games are the jewel in the AFL's regular season crown, as they bring enormous exposure, television ratings and interest to the competition and to the clubs that are participating.
The AFL readily acknowledges it typically only schedules the competition's most popular and highest rating teams to the timeslot.
Melbourne-based heavyweights Hawthorn, Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton and Richmond enjoy plenty of Friday night games, along with premiership contenders Geelong, the Sydney Swans and Fremantle.
The NRL has experimented with two Friday night games, usually one in Sydney and one in Brisbane, with the first match broadcast live into the host city and the second shown on delay.
Representatives from both Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney believe it's a model that could succeed in the AFL.
"Why would you play two on a Saturday night and not two on a Friday night?" Giants chief executive Dave Matthews said on Friday.
"A lot of the discussion is about the Friday night blockbusters in Melbourne, but one I've learned from living in Sydney for over four years is people here don't pay any attention to what's happening in Melbourne.
"So a second Friday night game would be really important to us if we could get one at some stage.
"We have a magnificent boutique stadium (Spotless Stadium), great lighting and everything else (required)."
Magpies CEO Gary Pert, whose club has regularly capitalised on its fan base by gaining access to some of the AFL's prime timeslots, also feels there is room for a second Friday night game.
"I think there's space for it because you've got different broadcasters," Pert said.
"You've got multiple radio stations covering it as well.
"The TV rights is important money and the audience figures are really important, but this game survives on the big crowds, the energy, the passion – you've got to get people into the stadiums.
"That's what sets us apart."
GWS has experienced plenty of teething problems as it tries to establish itself in a region where AFL is not a traditional sport.
This year the AFL tinkered with its traditional fixture and acknowledges the majority of results have not been positive.
Matthews feels improving the schedule can go a long way towards boosting those numbers.
"In terms of the time slots, 7.40pm (on a Saturday night) is a ridiculous time for families," he said.
"The difference between 7.10 and 7.40 is enormous, particularly in Sydney, where our game runs for longer than other sports.
"You're trying to introduce a new audience and you're starting it later and it runs longer (than other sports), so the time slot is definitely one that needs looking at."
The Pies also haven't been spared the difficulties of this year's experimental draw, which the AFL has admitted was designed to boost television ratings.
Pert believes that has been a fundamental mistake.
"The fixture was taken away from the best interests of the supporters and the clubs themselves," Pert said.
"When we got the draft fixture at the start of the year, we said 'this is a broadcast fixture'.
"Collingwood-Carlton, when you can expect 85-90,000 people, they put it late on a Sunday night (it was played at 7.10pm and drew just 40,936 fans).
"We called the broadcasters and they were open and honest about it.
"They said 'we'd been pushing the AFL to put Collingwood games at times when Collingwood supporters don't want to go to the games with their families so they'll stay home and watch it'.
"Well that costs us a lot of money. That costs families the enjoyment and connection of going to the game.
"Now in hindsight, the AFL is saying they'll change those fixturing decisions and make it a lot more about the supporters."