This Year’s AFLW Season Might Expire in August, Four Months Before the Next One Begins
According to reports, the AFL Commission is going to consider rescheduling the AFLW season, which might begin as early as August 2022. The AFLW season is still running strong, with the regular season’s final round taking place this weekend and the grand final set for the first weekend of April. For part-time athletes, beginning season seven in August 2022 would mean only a four-month break between seasons.
Essendon, Port Adelaide, Hawthorn, and Sydney, the final 4 new teams, would have to enter the competition much earlier than expected. Season 7 was supposed to premiere in late 2022 or early 2023. Following discussions of league executives in Melbourne on Wednesday, AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan was asked about the planned change. “It’ll be a quick process,” he said, “and we’ll make a choice in the next couple of weeks.”
Sydney coach Scott Gowans said his team was already preparing for an August launch date when the club joins the competition. “I just believe there are enough rumors out there,” Gowans explained. “We haven’t been given any information… But I think I’ve learned over time that if there’s even a smidgeon of fire, you’re going to get burned.”
The players are believed to be in favor of the suggested August start date, but there are still a few issues to be addressed. There are also looming CBA talks, with the current agreement set to expire at the end of the current season.
Brett Murphy, the AFLPA’s general manager of stakeholders and players, said there were still some practical issues to work out. “While most players are abstractly supportive of the proposed changes, there are practical realities that must be discussed before any modification to season timing can be implemented,” he said.
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Next AFLW Season Will Be Brought Forward to August — 4 Months After the Current Season Ends
He further said that the AFLW season this year had been mainly taxing on the players. It tried to kick off on January 7, 2021, after the AFL had planned to start it in late December 2021. The AFLW has traditionally begun in the first or second week of February or the last week of January.
“The 2022 season has been the most difficult season for players to date due to the large number of matches that had to be rescheduled on short notice, many of which were rescheduled into weekday timeslots, affecting player careers outside of football,” Murphy said. “This has taken a physical and mental toll on players as a result of match compression and, in many cases, players suffering from illness as a result of COVID.”
“For this current proposal becoming a reality, the industry must work through a number of significant issues, including development club rules, especially in relation to players, a new CBA, and trade and sign period details.” Clubs and Players have to have enough time to prepare for any changes which are being considered for the upcoming season, which further begins in August. “We are excited to work with the AFL to bring this certainly for players and the industry as soon as possible.”
The AFLW has been expected to compete for recognition this year with the Australian Open and the men’s and women’s Ashes due to its early start.
Ironically, the start was rescheduled due to ongoing COVID-19 uncertainty, which happened to coincide with the Omicron outbreak. COVID-19 infections impacted all teams to varying degrees, for most being unable to field a team at some point and a whole slew of scheduled games rescheduled and mid-week matches introduced.
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Players were also forced to play in extreme heat, as has been the case for years, and a number of them suffered ACL and other serious injuries.
This includes Bri Davey, 2021 best and fairest, Kate Lutkins, the player adjusted best away from the center in last year’s grand final, and, most recently, St Kilda’s Rhi Watt and Collingwood’s Brit Bonnici, among many others. All would miss another season of football if next season was pushed forward. The AFLW sign-and-trade period would also have to be pushed back, leaving the final four clubs with very little time to put their lineups together.