The Carlton-Richmond elimination final drew a crowd of 94,690 at the MCG.

The Carlton-Richmond elimination final drew a crowd of 94,690 at the MCG. Photo: Mal Fairclough

Traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond will play each other only once in the next home-and-away season with the AFL abandoning a return fixture despite the two teams' record-setting attendances in 2013.

The Tigers will host the Blues in the first AFL game at the MCG for 2014 in round-two but will abandon the customary gate-sharing deal as that clash will be the only one between the two sides unless they meet in the finals.

This is despite the fact that the three Carlton and Richmond games in 2013 averaged almost 80,000 a game with the September crowd of more than 94,000 a record for an elimination final.

Nor will the Tigers play Collingwood twice with only Essendon of the traditional blockbuster teams playing a return bout against Richmond. The AFL will unveil the 2014 fixture on October 31 having already revealed it will break a number of traditions by again opening the season one week earlier, starting with the weekend beginning Friday March 14 - grand prix weekend in Melbourne.

Round one will be spread over two weeks with the MCG not available due to cricket commitments until the third week of the season. The Richmond-Carlton game will be played on Thursday, March 27. Last year more than 80,000 saw the Tigers narrowly defeat the Blues.

The Blues are expected to play their season-opener against Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on March 16 - the day of the Melbourne Grand Prix - with the Tigers likely to travel to Metricon Stadium to play the Gold Coast.

The season has been brought forward to accommodate two byes following a strong push from the players and also to launch the season earlier in the northern states to combat the NRL's earlier start.

While the AFL puts the finishing touches to the fixture in consultation with the Seven Network and Fox Footy, it has briefed all 18 clubs over its determination to equalise the home-and-away competition by dividing the teams into groups of six.

The top six teams, for example, must play at least two other top-six teams twice and only one bottom-six team twice. Carlton's stunning finish to the season landed the Blues in the top six meaning it faces return bouts against Geelong and Port Adelaide.

The failure of Richmond and Collingwood to win a final saw those sides drop to seventh and eighth respectively to finish in the middle six along with Essendon. The AFL has chosen to schedule Carlton to play two games against the Magpies and the Bombers at the expense of Richmond. Of the top six teams, Richmond plays only Sydney twice.