CLUBS have been informed the pre-finals bye has been officially scrapped for 2021 with the week off to instead be held over and used during finals.
The AFL confirmed the move on Monday afternoon after initially telling clubs on Sunday night they would roll straight from the home and away season into finals without a week off.
The week off will, however, be a fluid decision and give the League the option of using it ahead of the preliminary final or the Toyota AFL Grand Final depending on whether teams are required to be relocated to other states given the ongoing threat of COVID-19.
The Grand Final remains fixtured for Saturday, September 25.
It comes after calls from Geelong coach Chris Scott and Melbourne counterpart Simon Goodwin over the weekend demanding clarity on whether there would be a weekend's rest ahead of the finals.
"As we continue to navigate such uncertain times and the challenges associated with delivering matches across multiple states, we want to ensure the momentum of the season isn’t compromised in the lead up to the 2021 Finals Series," AFL clubs and broadcasting manager Travis Auld said.
"We will approach the finals as we have the last 18 months, and that is to remain flexible and agile while monitoring an evolving set of circumstances in front of the competition.
"Our game is not immune to the uncertainty and the challenges in the wider community. We have had to make decisions all year to mitigate risk to keep the season going and now to ensure we deliver fans an epic and memorable month of AFL Finals.
"If circumstances require in the lead up to the 2021 Toyota AFL Grand Final, then we have the ability to pause for a week, ensuring we deliver on our commitment to provide the two competing clubs, their members and fans, the biggest and best sporting event of the year."
Should the bye be used in the week before the preliminary final, it would see the winners of the qualifying finals in week likely have a 20-21 day break between matches.
The bye before the finals was introduced for 2016 after several seasons of clubs resting players in the final round of the home and away season.