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AFL reveals 2018 fixture details

Nathan Schmook, AFL.com.au  August 3, 2017 3:24 PM

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The AFL has revealed the 2018 season will blast off on Thursday, March 22, and also confirmed key structural details of next year's fixture.  

The League has written to all clubs to begin work on the 2018 fixture, which it hopes to complete and announce by late October this year.  

A launch on March 22 will lead to the Grand Final being staged on Saturday, September 29, with the AFL still working on the structure of the season.    

Key dates the AFL was working within include:    
• Round one starting Thursday, March 22 
• The Grand Final on Saturday, September 29 
• Easter round from Thursday, March 29 to Monday, April 2 
• Anzac Day round from Friday, April 20 to Wednesday, April 25 
• Queens Birthday match on Monday, June 11

The League also confirmed a standard round would continue to include:   
• One Friday night match 
• Two Saturday afternoon matches 
• One Saturday twilight match 
• Two Saturday night matches 
• One early Sunday match 
• One Sunday afternoon match
• One Sunday twilight match  

The number of Thursday night matches was likely to be similar to the number played in 2017, with eight staged this year, including five consecutive between rounds 10 and 14.    

The matches were a ratings winner for broadcaster Channel Seven, which averaged 731,000 free-to-air viewers during its seven games in the timeslot this season.  

The popular timeslot requires teams to play on a six-day break, however, limiting the AFL's ability to work more into the fixture.  

AFL general manager of clubs, Travis Auld, said the League had written to clubs and key stakeholders, including the AFL Players Association, broadcasters, government and stadia partners to seek their input and outline the League's primary considerations.   Balancing the number of matches between top and bottom-placed clubs would continue to be a consideration for the AFL.

Other considerations for the League include:    
• AFL and club contractual obligations with stadia 
• Player welfare issues 
• Travel considerations for clubs 
• Maximising attendances 
• Continuation of "blockbuster" and "themed" matches 
• Expansion market objectives

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