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Clarkson wants clarity on AFL fixture talk

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is a fan of the proposed 17-5 overhaul of the AFL fixture.

Clarkson wants clarity on AFL fixture talk

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is a fan of the proposed 17-5 overhaul of the AFL fixture.

Go for equity or leave the AFL fixture be.

That is the blunt message from Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, who says there is a lack of clarity in the fixture debate.


The four-time premiership coach, one of the game's most-respected figures, did not want to even discuss the idea of wildcard games.

League chief executive Gillon McLachlan said he was surprised by the enthusiasm for the wildcard concept Thursday when he met AFL club chief executives.

But Clarkson says the only change he will back is the 17-5 concept, which splits the 18 teams into three conferences once they have played each other once.

He added the 18-4 idea leans too heavily towards changing the fixture for more money.

"If what's best for the game is equity, then that should be what drives this decision, not money," Clarkson said.

"The game needs to have a balance between what's best for the game and the spirit of the game, and what's best in terms of commercialisation - we need both.

"If we want equity, go 17-5. If we don't, just leave it alone and keep it as it is now.

"I'm all about equity - make it as even as you possibly can, for all sides."

Clarkson said the 17-5 model would mean no need for wildcard games, because the middle six teams would be battling for the last two spots in the top eight.

Former North Melbourne star Brent Harvey does not like any proposal for fixture change.

The AFL introduced the round-23 bye after North and Fremantle bulk-rested players before the finals, but Harvey noted that neither club had gone on to win the flag with that strategy.

"Just leave it," Harvey said.

"The bye's there and North Melbourne were part of it because we rested 104 players that week and Fremantle rested about 110.

"Did Fremantle or North Melbourne win the flags those years? - absolutely, they didn't.

"I don't know anything works, to make it 100 per cent fair."

HOW THE FIXTURE WORKS AND THE PROPOSED CHANGES:

* Current model - 22 rounds, no set rules on who plays each other twice

Pro: Why change? The AFL is enjoying one of its best seasons. Con: inequity

* 17-5 - all teams play each other once, then they are split into three conferences of six, based on their ladder positions

Pro: equity. Con: membership and planning dramas for clubs

* 18-4 - 18-game regular season, then four pre-finals rounds (two home, two away)

Pro: More attractive commercially to clubs. Con: less about equity than money

* Wildcard round - instead of the round-23 bye, seventh play 10th and eighth play ninth to decide the last two finals berths

Pro: maintains interest ahead of the finals. Con: the 17-5 model achieves much the same result

AAP


AAP



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