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The current AFL finals system was devised by the Australian Football League in 2000 as its end-of-season championship playoff tournament. It is a revision of the McIntyre Final Eight System, used by the AFL from 1994 to 1999, designed to address several perceived issues with that system. A similar system was previously used by the Australian Rugby League in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, however there was no crossover in 1995, and in 1996 teams crossed over in Week 2, rather than Week 3. The system has also been adopted by the Victorian Football League.

The 8 highest-ranked teams in the AFL regular season standings participate in a four-week tournament, with two teams eliminated in each of the first three weeks. The seventh team is eliminated at the Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the AFL's historic home arena.

The system is designed to give the top four teams an easier road to the Grand Final, as two of those teams receive a bye in the second week of the playoff, while the other two play at home in the second week.

Contents

Summary

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How it works

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Week one

  • 1st Qualifying Final: 1st seed hosts 4th seed
  • 2nd Qualifying Final: 2nd seed hosts 3rd seed
  • 1st Elimination Final: 5th seed hosts 8th seed
  • 2nd Elimination Final: 6th seed hosts 7th seed

The 8 finalists are split into two groups for the opening week of the Finals Series. The top four teams have the best chance of winning the premiership play the two Qualifying Finals. The winners get a bye through to Week Three of the tournament to play home Preliminary Finals, while the losers play home Semi-Finals in Week Two. The bottom four teams play the two Elimination Finals, where the winners advance to Week Two away games and the losers' seasons are over. Drawn matches continue into extra time until a winner is decided, with the exception of the Grand Final which is replayed in the following week.

There is a game on Friday Night, Saturday Afternoon, Saturday Night and Sunday Afternoon.

Week two

Starting with this week, all matches are knockout rounds, because the second chance only applies to the first week.

  • 1st Semifinal: Loser of 1st QF hosts winner of 1st EF
  • 2nd Semifinal: Loser of 2nd QF hosts winner of 2nd EF

One semi final is played on a Friday Night and the other is played on a Saturday Night.

Week three

  • 1st Preliminary Final: Winner of 1st QF hosts winner of 2nd SF
  • 2nd Preliminary Final: Winner of 2nd QF hosts winner of 1st SF

One Preliminary final is played on a Friday Night and the other is played on either Saturday Afternoon or Night.

Week four

  • Grand Final: Winners of 2 PFs meet at the MCG on a Saturday Afternoon.

Venues

The Australian Football League's contract with the Melbourne Cricket Club requires ten finals matches to be played at the M.C.G. in the first three weeks over a period of five years (2006-10). This means an average of two games must be played at the venue per year, plus each Grand Final. This means that in a period when non-Victorian clubs dominate the competition, it is possible that the AFL will still have to schedule non-Victorian teams' home matches at the MCG. This has happened in the past under previous agreements with the MCC which dictated that at least one finals game be played at the M.C.G. each week.

Week One: Games are held at the home teams' venue. If all four games would be held outside of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Elimination Final that is moved to the MCG. If any of the four games would be hosted by a Victorian team, at least one of those is played at the MCG and all non-Victorian teams get their home games.

Week Two: The MCG isn't guaranteed a game this week. The home teams each host the match at their own venue. If both games would be held outside the State of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Semi Final that is moved to the MCG. If any Victorian teams host a game, at least one will be played at the MCG.

Week Three: The MCG is no longer guaranteed a game in this week either. The home teams each host the match at their own venue. If both games would be held outside the State of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Preliminary Final that is moved to the MCG. If any Victorian teams host a game, at least one will be played at the MCG.

Week Four: The Grand Final is played on the last Saturday of September every year at the MCG.

Advantages for ladder positions

Under this finals system, the final eight teams are broken up into four groups of two. Each group of two earns one extra benefit over the teams beneath it. These benefits are home ground finals and the double-chance, whereby a first-week loss will not eliminate the team from the finals. Note that the "home" designations may be irrelvant for games played between teams from the same state - almost all finals games played between two Victorian teams will be held at the MCG, regardless of the "home" team's home ground.

First and second

First and Second receive the double-chance, and will play their first two finals matches at home: their qualifying final, and then either a semi-final if they lose their qualifying final or a preliminary final if they win their qualifying final. They need to win three games to win the premiership.

Third and fourth

Third and Fourth also receive the double-chance, but receive only one finals match at home: either a semi-final if they lose their qualifying final or a preliminary final if they win their qualifying final. They need to win three games to win the premiership.

Fifth and sixth

Fifth and Sixth receive one home final: their elimination final. They need to win four games to win the premiership.

Seventh and eighth

Seventh and Eighth receive no home finals. They need to win four games to win the premiership.

Criticism

The biggest criticism of the current system previously stemmed from the AFL's former contract with the MCC, rather than the seedings of the system itself. Because the contract required games to be played at the MCG while teams have moved away from Victoria over the years, it had become a regular occurrence that a team outside the State of Victoria had to play a "home" game at the MCG. In some cases, the "home" interstate team played a "road" Victoria team at the MCG, thus reversing the home-ground advantage. From 2006, a new agreement has been reached where no match must be played at the MCG each week; instead ten pre-Grand Final matches are played over a five year period (at an average of two per year).

Conversely, there has been pressure for rival code the NRL to use this system, especially following a major upset in the 2008 NRL Finals, when the 8th-ranked New Zealand Warriors upset the 1st-ranked Melbourne Storm; the first time that this has occurred in either the AFL or the NRL (this result was repeated in 2009 when the 8th-ranked Parramatta Eels defeated the top placed St George Dragons). [1] [2]

See also

References

External links


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