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  • Jason Regan

AFL schedules Friday night double-headers

The AFL will experiment with two matches on Friday nights for the first time since the 1990s, scheduling marquee fixtures in separate states in rounds three and eight.

The league released rounds one to nine of the 2022 fixture on Thursday, along with the match-ups for rounds 10-23. The schedule of matches from round 10 onwards is floating, to be confirmed after the season begins on March 16.

Two Friday night matches have been scheduled in round three, with the South Australian Showdown between Adelaide and Port Adelaide overlapping with a Melbourne-Essendon MCG clash.

The Crows and Power game will be shown only on Fox Footy, with the clash between the reigning premiers and Bombers scheduled for the Seven Network. It will allow the AFLW grand final to be played in clear air the following day - April 2 - with a window in the twilight slot.

The Friday night experiment will be repeated in round eight with Port Adelaide-Western Bulldogs and Fremantle-North Melbourne matches. The double-headers in the marquee timeslot will happen for the first time since round 10, 1999.

"It's a trial to see how it performs and I'm sure we'll learn like we have over the last couple of years how that new concept performs and respond accordingly," AFL clubs and broadcasting boss Travis Auld said.
"You'd love every game to have clean air ... but what you do is try and get that over-lap right and so there's not such a big impact.
"There's parts of that game (the Showdown) that will crossover with the next game but that's just something we have to work through."

The Dockers, Hawthorn and Gold Coast - who all missed the finals in 2021 - are the only clubs without matches in the marquee Thursday and Friday timeslots over the opening six rounds.

Round 23 is scheduled to begin on August 19, leaving room for another bye before or during the finals. Auld confirmed the AFL intended to play next year's grand final at the MCG on September 24.

This year's bye was slotted in between the preliminary and grand final, but for five seasons before that, it took place before the first week of the finals.

"We haven't given it (the finals bye) a lot of time," Auld said.
"One of the things we've really learned over the last couple of years if where you can hold back decisions and get as much information as you can before making them means you're in a better place."

As announced last week, Melbourne will host the Western Bulldogs at the MCG in a grand final re-match to start the season before Carlton and Richmond do battle on a Thursday night in a timeslot that will be a staple across the first five rounds.


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