Former Melbourne skipper Garry Lyon says the AFL’s experimental AFLX format will eventually become a mainstay of the fixture, believing it could fill the gap vacated by a shorter home-and-away season.
Despite the fast-paced, shortened version of the game receiving mixed reviews after its debut last weekend, Lyon is adamant the format will hang around long in to the future and be implemented in combination with a 17-game season.
“In 10 years’ time, maybe 15 or 20, we will have a 17 round season. Players are becoming a bit more militant. The length of the season is going to become an issue,” he told SEN Breakfast.
“The question about that is that broadcasters don’t want it and the players won’t take a pay cut. The answer to that? AFLX.
“They’ll play AFLX before or after (the season). 17 games a season, play each other once, it’s fairer.
“The AFLX tournament will be around the world too. There will be Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, America… it’ll be a bigger tournament.”
The shortened season would see each side play each other only once a year, and is proving to become the most popular method to equalise the fixture.
Lyon says this would also come in combination with an extended period where players would be away from the club, lasting upwards of three months, before returning for a six-week full-time training camp.
A forced closure of clubs during the off-season has previously been touted by AFL football operations manager Steven Hocking, believing the philosophy of “slowing down to quicken up” is the best way to move forward.
Tim Watson agreed with Lyon, believing it is only a matter of time before a shortened season is implemented.
“We all know that we follow a lot of what happens in the United States,” the ex-Essendon skipper said.
“The pendulum has swayed way over to the players now about the demands that they have on the game itself. They dictate to the teams how long they train and what they can do when they get to training.”
He also believes the new AFL fixture would be more enticing to broadcasters as the theoretical AFL tournament would extend the amount of time football is the focus of Australian sport.
“The actual broadcast rights will be greater because you’ll have from the beginning of March right through until October,” he said.
“You’ll have that whole period of time there where there is more broadcast rights up for grabs.”
Herald Sun journalist Sam Edmund has reported that clubs are meeting with the AFL this week over their feedback on AFLX, with a range of changes to be proposed.
These include increasing the amount of players on field to increase contested football, more time to celebrate goals and greater rewards for scoring from tight angles.
The time of the year AFLX is played will also be discussed, with the belief some clubs are supportive of the idea to play it in the break between the home-and-away season and the finals using the 10 teams that finished outside the top eight that year, with prizemoney and draft order bonuses to form as incentive to name star players.
However Lyon and Watson say a wildcard weekend will instead be implemented in the break week, which would see the teams placed 7-10 face off for a spot in the finals the next week, with the Bombers champion believing this could be in place as soon as next year.
Listen to the full podcast of today's SEN Breakfast with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson below: