THE AFL prioritised fans attending matches and had planned to give the AFLW Grand Final "clean air" when it fixtured this Friday night's double-header of overlapping games.
Melbourne and Essendon will clash on Friday night at the MCG in a game starting at 7.20pm local time before the South Australian Showdown between Adelaide and Port Adelaide will begin an hour later at 7.50pm local time at Adelaide Oval.
There is no Saturday game in round three until 4.35pm AEDT when Greater Western Sydney hosts Gold Coast at Giants Stadium, with the League having planned to stage the NAB AFLW Grand Final on Saturday afternoon before a COVID-enforced reshuffle of the finals fixture saw it pushed to next week.
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"At the time of developing the men's fixture, we anticipated the NAB AFLW Grand Final to overlap with round three. In order to provide clean air for the NAB AFLW Grand Final, we fixtured two Friday night matches an hour apart," the AFL's general manager of finance, clubs and broadcast Travis Auld told AFL.com.au.
"In this case, we have opted to schedule both Friday night matches at times that allow the most number of supporters the opportunity to attend the games. If we were to schedule a Friday night game at say 6pm and another at say 9pm, for example, neither of those timeslots would be ideal for fans attending matches.
"While the NAB AFLW Grand Final has subsequently been pushed back one week due to COVID impacts, the two Friday night men’s games in round three will allow football fans, including members and supporters of the Adelaide Crows and Melbourne, to have the opportunity to watch the AFLW preliminary finals on Saturday afternoon at those same venues – the Adelaide Oval and the MCG – with both matches clear of any men's games."
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There will be two Friday games on Good Friday in round five but they are staggered and won't cross over, however in round eight two Friday night games – Port Adelaide vs. Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval and Fremantle vs. North Melbourne at Optus Stadium – will overlap.
Auld said the League had fixtured that Friday double-header to keep just two games for the Sunday of that round.
"Two Friday night games are also scheduled in round eight to minimise the number of games on the Sunday which is Mother's Day," he said.
"As we do each year, we will assess all aspects of the fixture at the conclusion of the season."