Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
HAWTHORN'S president, Andrew Newbold, has raised the issue of the inequitable fixture, saying that no team drawn to play Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast twice this year should do so next year.
Newbold said the draw had become lopsided due to the entrance of GWS, and while the Hawks were ''not whingeing'' about their tough schedule, in which they've played Collingwood, Geelong and West Coast - three of last year's top four - plus Sydney in the opening five games, the current fixture had handed some clubs a competitive advantage.
''Sides like the Kangaroos, who play those sides twice effectively, you know, that's three games almost, isn't it? They've got an advantage,'' said Newbold, who replaced the outspoken Jeff Kennett as Hawthorn president last December.
''But that's what it is. We'll deal with it. If we're good enough … nothing's going to get in our way, and it's a matter of whether we're good enough. And that's our attitude.
''I think as a matter of policy, clearly the sides that draw them twice this year shouldn't draw them twice again next year. That, to me, just makes no sense, otherwise you're just giving clubs [a leg-up] when … you're trying to make it an even playing field as much as you can.''
Newbold acknowledged the AFL's challenge in making a fair fixture. ''I think it's difficult for them. In years when you've got two fledgling sides that are going to get flogged, who plays them twice and who doesn't? It's not an easy problem to solve. The clubs have to weigh up football versus corporate.''
Newbold said the Hawks had been ''smashed corporately'' by being drawn to play GWS, Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Sunday afternoons during winter. ''You look at that and you look at our first five weeks and you're saying it's hard yards, both corporately and football wise. We're not whingeing about the draw. It is a tough draw - no one would argue with that. You look at our first five weeks, I think it's as tough as anyone's got. We've played three of the top four sides from last year and the side [Sydney] that previous to playing us had not lost a game in the pre-season.''
The Hawks have been drawn to play Geelong, Collingwood, West Coast and Sydney twice, along with two games against Port Adelaide, in what ranks among the hardest draws of any club.
Under the AFL's fixturing, the top four teams from last year have been handed tougher schedules and none of last year's top eight plays GWS and Gold Coast twice, with the exception of the Swans, who play their new local rival twice.
Newbold said the Hawks would not feel ''softening in our corporate numbers'' until mid-season when it played those non-Victorian clubs. The club, however, had fared well financially from having Collingwood in round one as a home game, with a return game against the Cats later in the year.