Been a different year this year. Been a good year, in many respects, the AFL got a season in the books despite Covid-19, and tried a number of pivots that worked really well. But 2021 is a whole different ball game. What to do?..
(in no particular order)
1. Simplify Holding the Ball rule
Easy one. If you take possession and have no prior opportunity, you must make an effort, otherwise holding the ball. If you take possession, and had prior opportunity, you must dispose of it correctly, otherwise holding the ball. If you take possession, had prior, and the ball is knocked out, or it spills out, holding the ball. By taking possession and having prior, its now your accountability for it to leave your possession legally or get pinned. No more great tackles going unrewarded because “it came free and he made an effort”.
2. Penalise tackler locking the ball in
Player takes possession, has no prior, and is tackled. Tackler then locks the ball in despite the tackled players best efforts, and appeals for holding the ball. Penalise the tackler. Locking the ball in locking for a free is as worse as anything towards congestion. Tackle so that the player can’t get rid of it legally, sure, but the pile in to lock the ball in and then the appeal to the umpire, you have no interest on moving the ball on, free kick to the tackled.
3. Abolish the ruck nomination
Another easy one. Only two ruckmen can compete for the drop zone of a ball up or throw in. If the ball falls short of the likely ruckmen and its not recalled, whoever’s near can get it. But as long as we know that a second member of a team competes, be it blocking for a teammate, or coming in over the top of two ruckmen already there, its a free kick.
4. Announce State of Origin every February
Because of other changes I’m also making which might limit the schedule, then this is a must. Whether its one game a year, on a rotational basis, or we get in three games, Vic vs. WA, WA vs. SA and SA vs. Vic over three weekends with home teams reversed in odd years, whatever, State footy needs to be a fixture.
5. Announce an expansion Team to Tasmania for 2023
Move to 19 teams, lock in the investment in the game down in the Apple Isle and line this up to the end of the current deal with Channel Seven (prior to their two year extension you’d now be able to renegotiate). Gives them three years to gear up, its another positive story off the back of the Covid-19 year we’ve had, and it secures our future
6. Announce a move to 18 round seasons from 2023
So off the back of taking on Tassie in three years time, move to playing each other once formally by then. At that stage all your covid debt has been paid back and you can go about moving to a fixture driven by integrity over dollars. A way to satisfy the broadcaster and not lose too much money is to give Channel Seven every game, so every game is on both Seven and Fox, and also you’d work your byes and fixturing during the year to avoid any timeslot with two games at once, removing lost opportunity there also. So you might have multiple weeks with only seven games or so, but you still have footy on in every key timeslot and you still get roughly a 22-week season still.
7. Make Under 18s Under 19s and put State Championships in primetime
Draft age moves to 19, but you can still draft 18 year old’s if they’re ready. But that extra year in the system might help young footballers hone their skills with their Year 12 done and dusted the year before. Plus, moving to Under 19s, the standard will be a little bit better also you’d think. Then, let’s tap into the American culture a bit and invest in promoting the State Champs every year, Fox Footy, midweek primetime slots and cover them properly. The Junior World Champs in ice hockey each Christmas are huge events for a week or two, why can’t we get people properly excited by the State Champs each year if publicised and marketed well?
8. Do the Draft and Trade together
Right now we have the Free Agency start, then the Trade, then it stops, and then the Draft years later. Next year, have both Free Agency and Trade period open the same day, then the deadline for both is two weeks later on a Friday, but the Draft is the Sunday of the second week. If we’re trading picks and what not, let’s combine them into one, and if you really want those picks, then lets incorporate the event its for into the picture.
9. Change the points tiebreaker from % to points for
We want to encourage scoring, then change the priority for teams on the ladder with equal points from % to points for. Therefore if we have two teams both six wins, three losses say, the team who scores more will be higher placed. I don’t care that some teams play at Marvel under a roof and others might get some rain, luck of the draw, every ground drains well, by playing outside doesn’t guarantee anything. You’re worst enemy will be a lower team trying to keep things dour in hoping to sneak a win, than the chance of some mid-June drizzle. You want to coach a defensive system all year knowing it won’t help you on the ladder? Good luck.
10. Twilight Grand Final, Tame Impala at half-time
Night Grand Final, not so sure. Twilight though? I’m keen to see it. Might be the perfect mix of traditional, but just enough later to get into that night, event, sort of feel. So start at 4:45, only two and a bit hours later, we can all manage that, but we’d be looking at a half time after 6 o’clock, before daylight savings, where done properly Tame Impala I think would work swimmingly. Easy.