AFL FIXTURE: Weekend day clashes increased

The AFL has come good on its pledge for a fan-friendly fixture in 2015 with a marked increase in weekend day games in Victoria.

After just 34 weekend day matches in Victoria last season, the league has delivered 47 for next year.

In total, there will be 20 Saturday afternoon and 27 Sunday afternoon games in Victoria in 2015.

Some of the blockbuster MCG Saturday afternoon games next year are Carlton v Essendon, Essendon v Collingwood, Richmond v Geelong, Hawthorn v Essendon, Collingwood v Carlton and Collingwood v Richmond. 

As was widely expected, the Sunday night and Monday night timeslots have been scrapped while the warmly received Thursday night slot has five games.

The league has also introduced earlier starts for Saturday night matches in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. They will begin at 7.20pm in 2015 as opposed to 7.40pm in 2014.

‘‘Across the country, we have sought to work with the respective clubs in each state for the best timeslots for fans in those parts of the country,’’ AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said on Thursday.

‘‘While we cannot meet all requests, we believe there are significant moves as part of today’s fixture release that will be well received, depending on the different needs and requests of fans in different parts of Australia.’’ 

The first grand final rematch between Hawthorn and Sydney takes place in round eight at the MCG. 

New Lion Dayne Beams will face former club Collingwood in round one at the Gabba, former Bulldogs skipper Ryan Griffen will take on his ex-teammates when the Giants tackle the Dogs in round nine at Etihad Stadium, while ruckman Paddy Ryder will reacquaint himself with the Bombers when Port Adelaide meets Essendon at Etihad Stadium in round 17. 

Fremantle, Essendon and Richmond are the most fortunate finalists as they face only three top-eight sides twice. 

Collingwood and Geelong have drawn the short end of the stick with eight six-day breaks – the most of any club – while Brisbane and Gold Coast have the least with three each. 

And in a sign of the times, Essendon and Carlton will not play each other twice for the first time since 1992.

This story first appeared in The Age