THE AFL has written to the clubs, broadcasters and other major stakeholders seeking their 2019 fixture requests but will stick with the same season structure as recent years.
The League announced on Thursday the 2019 season would again involve:
- The JLT Community Series, from mid-February to early March
- A 23-round round home and away season, running from Thursday, March 21, to Sunday, August 25, which will include one bye for each team
- A pre-finals week bye
- A four-week finals series, with:
- The first week to be held from Thursday, September 5, to Sunday, September 8
- The Grand Final to be held on Saturday, September 28.
The timeslot for the Grand Final was not confirmed, with a twilight fixture certain to again be considered.
Carlton also looks set to be phased out of Friday night games after surprisingly playing four of the prime-time fixtures this season, with AFL general manager of clubs Travis Auld confirming the League would again look to reward on-field performance when completing the 2019 schedule.
Next year's fixture will retain the current regular round structure of one Friday night match, two Saturday afternoon matches, one Saturday twilight match, two Saturday night matches, one early Sunday match, one Sunday afternoon match and one Sunday twilight match.
The AFL will continue to schedule a number of irregular rounds, principally around key public holidays and bye weekends, with the growing Thursday night timeslot again likely to feature prominently.
The season will again start on a Thursday night, while round five will run from Thursday, April 18, to Monday, April 22, to coincide with Easter, and round six will feature Anzac Day (Thursday) and Anzac Day eve (Wednesday) games.
A game will again be held on the Queen's Birthday public holiday, which will fall on Monday, June 10, next year (except for Western Australia).
The AFL has asked all stakeholders to file their fixture requests by Friday, August 10.
Auld said he expected the fixture would be completed by mid-to-late October.