AFL

Live coverage: 2014 AFL fixture

Front and Centre: 2014 fixture analysis

Our footy experts analyse the 2014 AFL fixture list and what it means for your club.

Matt Murnane reports that it's looking "increasingly unlikely" that the proposed captain's pick All-star game will go ahead, leaving uncertainty around how the AFL plans to end its revamped pre-season competition.

The AFL will not commit to the representative game as the marquee conclusion to its new NAB Challenge series unless there is universal support for the concept throughout the industry and  league deputy chief Gillon McLachlan admitted on Thursday that he "does not see that happening".

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Here's the 2014 fixture, round-by-round .... CLICK HERE

Who your club plays twice ....

ADELAIDE
: Port Adelaide, St Kilda, GWS, Collingwood, North Melbourne

BRISBANE LIONS: North Melbourne, Richmond, Gold Coast, Fremantle, Geelong

CARLTON: Port Adelaide, Essendon, Collingwood, Geelong, St Kilda

COLLINGWOOD: Adelaide Crows, West Coast Eagles, Essendon, Carlton, Hawthorn

ESSENDON: Collingwood, Western Bulldogs, Sydney Swans, Richmond, Carlton.

FREMANTLE West Coast, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Brisbane Lions

GEELONG Hawthorn, Carlton, Fremantle, Brisbane Lions, North Melbourne

GOLD COAST Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, West Coast

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY Sydney Swans, Melbourne, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Richmond,

HAWTHORN Geelong, Fremantle, Collingwood, Sydney Swans, Gold Coast

MELBOURNE West Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne.

NORTH MELBOURNE Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, Adelaide, Geelong, Brisbane Lions.

PORT ADELAIDE Carlton, Adelaide Crows, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney Swans.

RICHMOND Brisbane Lions, Greater Western Sydney, St Kilda, Sydney Swans and Essendon.

ST KILDA Carlton, West Coast, Richmond, Adelaide, Gold Coast.

SYDNEY SWANS GWS, Hawthorn, Essendon, Port Adelaide, Richmond

WEST COAST Gold Coast, Melbourne, Collingwood, Fremantle, St Kilda

WESTERN BULLDOGS North Melbourne, Greater Western Sydney, Essendon, Melbourne, Gold Coast

Here's the 2014 fixture .... FULL LINK

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Matt Murnane reports ...

The AFL's push into the Sunday night time slot will be greater than first thought, with six games scheduled to start after 7pm on Sundays in 2014.

The league will begin its trial of the new concept immediately, scheduling Carlton against Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium as its first Sunday night clash in an opening round that will be split over two weekends – March 14-16 and March 20-23.

It is the key feature of an otherwise uninspiring round one, which kicks off with a solid Collingwood-Fremantle showdown at Etihad Stadium, but then trails off with Geelong versus Adelaide (James Podsiadly against his old club) and North Melbourne against Essendon as the other anticipated fixtures.

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Rohan Connolly's analysis ... 

Carlton was the beneficiary of Essendon's stunning expulsion from the 2013 finals series, but the Blues have paid something of a price two months down the track for their good fortune.

The club won plenty of credits for emerging from ninth place to upset Richmond in an elimination final. But that win pushed it up to a final ladder position of sixth. And in the AFL's new fixturing system, where teams have been grouped in blocks of six, with more games against other teams in their section and fewer against others, Carlton's draw for 2014 is a significant test.

The Blues have 12 games against the other 2013 finalists. They play Geelong, Port Adelaide and Collingwood twice, along with Essendon, the team that would have been part of September had it not for the drugs scandal. But it's not a catastrophe for Mick Malthouse's side, which has drawn only five road trips, including only one to Perth.

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Here's the fixture, or at least the early rounds .... FULL LINK

"I think there is a bit of trial about it," the AFL's Gil McLachlan admits about next year's fixture.

Geelong fans will have to wait until round 15 before they see their fan favourite Paul Chapman lining up in opposition colours against the Cats. The delisted Geelong veteran may feature in the match between the Bombers and Cats at Etihad Stadium.

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West Coast will play three of the bottom five teams twice.

New Swan Lance Franklin to take on his former club Hawthorn at ANZ Stadium in round eight. Former Collingwood fan favourite Dale Thomas will go up against his old club in round seven, when Carlton play their fierce rivals in a Friday night MCG blockbuster.

Reigning premiers Hawthorn will play three top six teams twice. They are Fremantle, Geelong and Sydney. The Hawks also have the most six-day breaks of any club (9).

Lowly Melbourne will play the Western Bulldogs, West Coast and GWS Giants in 'double-up' fixtures.

Anzac Day will feature three games in 2014. Essendon v Collingwood - of course. St Kilda v Brisbane in Wellington and Fremantle versus North Melbourne. It's a footy-on-TV feast.

We've got six Sunday night games confirmed across the season, including two in Perth (scheduled for the afternoon in the west). That means six Sunday night games on the TV on the east coast anyway.

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Round 1 home-and-away season:

FRIDAY MARCH 14
Collingwood v Fremantle, Etihad Stadium (night)

SATURDAY MARCH 15
Gold Coast v Richmond, Metricon Stadium (day)
GWS Giants v Sydney, Skoda Stadium (twilight)

SUNDAY MARCH 16
Carlton v Port Adelaide, Etihad Stadium (night)

THURSDAY MARCH 20
Geelong v Adelaide, Simonds Stadium (night)

FRIDAY MARCH 21
North Melbourne v Essendon, Etihad Stadium (night)

SATURDAY MARCH 22
Hawthorn v Brisbane, Launceston (twilight)
Melbourne v St Kilda, Etihad Stadium (night)

SUNDAY MARCH 23
West Coast v Western Bulldogs, Patersons Stadium (afternoon)

 

How's that for an avalanche of footy? Thursday night footy and at least one Sunday evening game.

 

The pre-season details are coming out .... The NAB Cup grand final is definitely a goner. There will be 18 games in 18 days. Geelong v Collingwood at Simonds Stadium and a 'Q-Clash' are happening.

We're just minutes away now from getting some more details .... Round one will naturally be a focus with the opening round be be split across two weekends - March 14-16 and March 20-23

The new timeslot - Sunday night footy - is going to be a massive change for fans. There's set to be at least three and possibly six games in that new timeslot, including some of the traditional blockbusters - with the backing of Channel Seven.

The move means that next year's home-and-away season will feature 7.40pm games on five of the seven week nights from Thursday night through until Monday night with the Sunday night fixture seen by the league as a long-term prospect - preferable and more practical than Monday night.

The finishing touches are being administered to the 2014 schedule but Fairfax Media understands Collingwood should be involved in at least one of the Sunday night Channel Seven games with West Coast tentatively scheduled to play North Melbourne at Subiaco on Sunday night (Melbourne time), June 1, as part of Western Australia's public holiday weekend.

Exactly how the AFL structures the pre-season period is going to be a hot talking point. The NAB Cup is history (some say not before time!) but the machinations of the lead-up to the season proper will be fascinating. This week Fairfax Media outlined details on the proposed 'captain's pick' exhibition game to conclude the pre-season. As part of the scheme, still being finalised by the game's governing body, the revamped pre-season would include an unofficial round-robin of 18 games played in 18 days, followed by a representative game in early March with two all-star teams, potentially selected by the 2013 grand final captains.

The concept, first revealed to the 18 clubs during grand final week, has particularly riled those clubs playing in the first week of the split round-one fixture and notably the Dockers, who are expected to open the home-and-away season against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, March 14. ''I liken it to taking Black Caviar the week before the Melbourne Cup and running her in some manky country race meeting,'' Fremantle president Steve Harris was even moved to say.

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