AFL shrinks pre-season, AFLX undecided

The AFL pre-season competition will take place over two weekends next season, with each team to play two games.

The AFL has shrunk its pre-season series as the league tries to juggle the preparation needs of clubs, give the AFLW airtime and find a slot that works for AFLX.

Fixturing chief Travis Auld released next year's pre-season program on Monday and has also hinted there will be no repeat of last season's Friday night flops when he releases the home-and-away fixture on Wednesday.

AFL clubs will again play two games in the pre-season competition but next year's warm-up series will take place over two weekends instead of three.

Carlton will host Essendon in the opener at Ikon Park on Thursday, February 28, and Collingwood will play the Blues in Morwell in the last match on Monday, March 11, which is Labour Day in Victoria.

"We've moved the format around a couple of times over the last few years to try and get it right ... that's largely on the back of feedback from the clubs," Auld said.

"We'll have a week off between the last (pre-season) game into the first game of the home-and-away season.

"But (this) also works better with the AFLW season. There's less crossover with AFLW games, it condenses the impact of these games going into the home-and-away series."

AFL clubs will travel to play in regional centres such as Werribee, Lismore, Mackay, Ballarat and Port Pirie.

Auld said no new rules would be trialled but the changes approved by the commission for the season proper would be on display for the first time.

He was guarded when pressed on what to expect from Wednesday's home-and-away season fixture release.

But he said the mistakes of this season, when too many Friday night games failed to live up to the marquee timeslot, wouldn't be repeated.

"We want to bolster Friday nights, we want to make sure that Thursday and Fridays are really strong that those feature events are there," he said.

"We want to reward teams that have been playing really good football. West Coast and Collingwood are the two obvious ones but Melbourne and Essendon look quite exciting after trade period.

"So we want to feature them in the right spots as often as we can."

Auld revealed the league hasn't settled on the format or dates for AFLX games but is adamant the experiment will continue in some shape or form.

"We still need to settle on the right format and time for it," he said.

"We're happy to do that over a number of years ... we're not in a hurry to land this thing - we're going to keep playing around with the format."

Source AAP

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