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AFL considers introducing wildcard round to extend Finals Series

The AFL CEO-elect, Andrew Dillon, is proposing the idea of introducing an AFL wildcard round. The proposed round would extend the AFL Finals Series and involve “wildcard” teams that finish ninth or tenth.

This idea is inspired by the NBA‘s play-in tournament and the American football wildcard system in the NFL playoffs. The AFL wildcard round would likely involve two additional fixtures during the pre-finals bye weekend, with the seventh-placed team playing the tenth-placed team and the eighth-placed team playing the ninth-placed team.

The winners would advance to the elimination finals, while the losers would be eliminated from the finals. The introduction of a wildcard round would give more teams the opportunity to play in the finals and create an additional revenue source for the league.

However, not everyone is supportive of the idea. Essendon Bombers coach Brad Scott has criticised the concept of a wildcard round, expressing concerns about its impact on the integrity of the fixture and the potential for unfair outcomes. Scott believes that adding an additional round that could determine a team’s fate based on a single game could undermine the results of the regular season and the efforts made by teams to secure a top-eight position. He suggests that prioritising broadcast and attendance over fairness and equity could be detrimental to the competition.

Despite the criticism, discussions between clubs and the AFL are set to take place to further explore the wildcard round proposal. The VFL has already implemented a wildcard round this season, which has been successful. The AFL is looking to replicate this success and explore the potential benefits and drawbacks of introducing a wildcard round to the main league.

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