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More Saturday afternoon football at the MCG next year

AFL is set to return to the MCG on Saturday afternoons in season 2015.

AFL is set to return to the MCG on Saturday afternoons in season 2015. Photo: Wayne Taylor

Saturday afternoon football at the MCG, the once-traditional punctuation mark of winters in Melbourne, will creep back into the AFL calendar next season.

League bosses formulating the 2015 calendar in a bid to attract better crowds in Melbourne are working to restore more Saturday matches at the game's traditional home as the MCG pledges to roll out its multi-million-dollar technology overhaul.

In a 2014 season beset by messy extended byes, the early unavailability of the MCG and irregular Thursday and Sunday night games, the MCG sat empty over more than two-thirds of the available Saturday afternoons. In 2013, only six Saturday afternoon games were fixtured there.

Not only will the stadium host more Saturday afternoon games but it will also host more blockbusters, expected to generally kick off at 1.45pm, in line with the AFL's broadcasting contracts. But next year the AFL has pledged to put its fans ahead of the broadcasters despite starting negotiations for a new media deal within the next six months.

This season, of the AFL's 25 available Saturday afternoons, eight were played at the MCG with just one at the traditional 2.10pm start – a Hawthorn-Collingwood game which attracted more than 74,000 fans. Big Saturday afternoon games have been phased out over the years due to television demands despite consistently attracting big crowds.

As AFL clubs put the finishing touches to their requests for 2015, which are due in next week, a Carlton-Richmond season-opener at the MCG is virtually locked in for Thursday, April 2, with a Good Friday fixture remaining uncertain. One bye is expected to be structured over three weeks of six games each.

The back-to-the-future attempt to bring quality Saturday afternoon games back to the MCG will come as good news for Melbourne's radio networks, whose extensive weekend AFL coverage has been hurt by the large number of relatively unappealing games scheduled in the once-key timeslots.


MCG boss Stephen Gough told Fairfax Media this week that his stadium had been heartened by league chief Gillon McLachlan's undertaking to revamp next year's fixture in favour of live crowds. That stadium's long-term deal with the AFL demands 10 of the best 12 home-and-away games each season and a contracted minimum annual attendance of 1.7 million, not including finals. Last year a total of 2.7 million fans attended AFL games at the MCG with 2.34 million of those during home-and-away rounds.

Geelong also will push for more more day games at its home ground. Club chief Brian Cook said the Cats' attendances had been hurt by the league's move to schedule six night games at Simonds this year and that the club would struggle to make a profit in 2014. Geelong is lobbying the AFL for an eighth home game at Kardinia Park.

The AFL is also understood to have stopped short of any radical overhaul of the Tasmanian schedule with Hawthorn's contract to host four games in Launceston until the end of 2016 and North to extend its agreement in Hobart for a two-to-three-game two-year deal. This is despite McLachlan's stated preference for a one-team model playing games in both Tasmanian cities.

Etihad Stadium remains the AFL's preferred night venue in Melbourne, with that ground still guaranteed an extra 10 remaining games over the next decade as part of its most recent agreement with the league. Etihad, which lost its chance to host a final last season when the AFL moved the Geelong-Fremantle clash to Geelong, remains hopeful of a week-one final fixture in September this season, particularly if home club North Melbourne wins the right to host a final.

36 comments so far

  • a drovers dog could have worked this out. How much do these people get paid?! Makes us furious. Ofcourse Saturday afternoon games are the answer.

    Commenter
    maryk
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 9:01PM
    • who ever organised this years draft should be stripped of their salary. anyone with half a brain could have worked out this was never going to benefit the fans. Collingwood last four matches, including tomorrows Sunday start 4.30 pm. pathetic! and not a single game being played in Melbourne this Saturday afternoon

      Commenter
      quarterwit
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 11:22AM
    • While it's all about Melbourne it appears other cities in the national comp are going to get more of the undesired slots to suit TV. I am going to wait until the fixture is released for next season before renewing my $600 per year seated membership and if Fremantle get a bunch more Sunday games I will stick with Foxtel and just buy tickets to 2 or 3 games throughout the year (while always remaining an unseated member). I HATE going to the footy on Sunday afternoons so usually don't attend. Anyway, we'll probably be talking about the dismal attendances in Perth and Adelaide once Melbourne is sorted- the fact is that games should be played at the same time not spread out one at a time over the weekend so TV can show each game. There should be two Friday night matches, the bulk on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, two on a Sunday (no later than 1pm start in the city it is played).

      Commenter
      Peter
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 11:39AM
  • I don't live in Melbourne so it doesn't matter to me but heh, Saturday afternoon at G! I was in Melbourne a few years ago and went to a Saturday game. Just thinking now about walking through the parklands to the game gives me goosebumps.

    All sports have sold their souls to the broadcasters to some extent but now is the time for the AFL to claw a bit back.

    Commenter
    RHM
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 9:04PM
    • Sorry but I really doubt it. Kids are migrating to soccer due to lack of kid friendly day games. Afl don't care. Don't be surprised when aussie rules numbers drop off in the next decade or so.

      Commenter
      skeptic
      Date and time
      August 01, 2014, 9:34PM
      • Skeptic. Keep trolling and speaking up your beloved soccer lol, seriously, what parent would take kids to soccer over AFL, soccer where fans rip up seats, let of flares, fight each other pathetic. Speaking of A League when is its season , that's right had to be moved as couldn't compete with AFL and NRL

        Commenter
        Go Blues
        Date and time
        August 01, 2014, 11:17PM
      • Agreed. I went to the MCG to see a game when last in Melbourne. I'd heard all this talk about 'great atmosphere' etc....nope. I've been to Championship games back home with more atmosphere. AFL is a bit like other minority sports, the less interested the world is, the more deluded the sports fans become. Remember, this games been around 150 years...no one cares.

        Commenter
        matt
        Date and time
        August 02, 2014, 8:33AM
      • Damn Right, AFL have lost me so sick and tired of the AFL thinking they run Victoria and they can't be criticized. A League has much better atmosphere.

        Commenter
        Phillip J Fry
        Location
        A Proud MVFC Memeber
        Date and time
        August 02, 2014, 3:32PM
    • The fans prefer Saturday afternoon footy? Totes amaze balls...
      The fans don't want twilight, starlight, spotlight games on school nights? RU4REAL?
      Next you'll be saying the fans want a fair dinkum draw, affordably priced tickets and Collingwood to actually play outside Victoria every now and then...
      Get me a new CEO. This one has gone fully cray cray.

      Commenter
      Splash
      Location
      Billabong
      Date and time
      August 01, 2014, 9:39PM
      • Or even Essendon, Carlton, Richmond or Geelong to play a game outside of Victoria occasionally as well.

        Commenter
        dms1972
        Location
        Adelaide
        Date and time
        August 01, 2014, 11:28PM

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    AFL 2015

    Round 1
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    CAR 78 vs RIC 105 Report Stats
    Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
    MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
    SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
    BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
    WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
    Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
    ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
    FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
    Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
    HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
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    Round 2
    Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
    WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
    Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
    GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
    COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
    GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
    PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
    Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
    GEE 60 vs FRE 104 Stats
    ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
    NTH 133 vs BRI 51 Stats
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    Round 3
    Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
    COL 140 vs STK 66 Stats
    Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
    CAR 84 vs ESS 105 Stats
    ADE 80 vs MEL 55 Stats
    SYD 111 vs GWS 90 Report Stats
    NTH 105 vs PTA 113 Stats
    BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
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    HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
    GEE 105 vs GCF 96 Stats
    WCE 81 vs FRE 111 Stats
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    Round 4
    Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
    RIC 51 vs MEL 83 Stats
    Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
    STK 81 vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
    ESS 49 vs COL 69 Report Stats
    GWS 119 vs GCF 53 Stats
    PTA 99 vs HAW 91 Stats
    FRE 74 vs SYD 60 Stats
    Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
    BRI 65 vs WCE 118 Stats
    GEE 67 vs NTH 83 Stats
    WBU 125 vs ADE 68 Stats
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    Round 5
    Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
    CAR 45 vs COL 120 Stats
    Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
    RIC 76 vs GEE 85 Stats
    SYD 73 vs WBU 77 Stats
    GCF 118 vs BRI 54 Stats
    NTH 70 vs HAW 130 Stats
    WCE 120 vs GWS 33 Stats
    Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
    MEL 50 vs FRE 118 Stats
    STK 80 vs ESS 82 Stats
    ADE 91 vs PTA 115 Stats
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    Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
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    WBU 87 vs STK 94 Stats
    GWS 108 vs HAW 98 Stats
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    FRE 80 vs ESS 52 Stats
    Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
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    Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
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    Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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    Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
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    MEL vs WBU 15:20MCG
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    Round 9
    Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
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    COL vs NTH 15:20MCG
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    Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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    CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
    GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
    ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
    PTA vs WBU 19:40Adelaide Oval
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    NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
    STK vs HAW 16:40ES
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    Round 11
    Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
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    Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
    GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
    WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
    NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
    Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
    COL vs GWS 13:10MCG
    STK vs MEL 16:40ES
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    Round 12
    Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
    ADE vs HAW 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs WCE 19:50MCG
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    CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
    GWS vs NTH 16:35Spotless Stadium
    WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
    Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
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    Round 13
    Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
    FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
    Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
    Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
    BRI vs ADE 16:35G
    STK vs WBU 19:20ES
    Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
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    Round 14
    Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
    Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
    COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
    Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
    RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
    GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
    WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
    MEL vs WCE 19:40TIO
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    ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    FRE vs BRI 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 15
    Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
    PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
    Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
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    ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
    WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
    NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
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    HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
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    Round 16
    Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
    NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
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    GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
    COL vs WCE 16:35ES
    SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
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    PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
    STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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    Round 17
    Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
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    ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
    RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
    ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
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    Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
    WBU vs COL 13:10ES
    MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
    WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 18
    Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
    Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
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    COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
    SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
    CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
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    ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
    FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 19
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    COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
    WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
    BRI vs GCF 16:35G
    GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
    WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
    Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
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    GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
    STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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    Round 20
    Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
    SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
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    NTH vs STK 14:10BA
    PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
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    WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
    FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 21
    Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
    HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
    Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
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    GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
    GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
    STK vs GEE 19:20ES
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    CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
    WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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    Round 22
    Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
    GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
    Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
    GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
    HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
    NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
    ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
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    STK vs SYD 15:20ES
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    Round 23
    Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
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    RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
    HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
    GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
    SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
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    Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
    Western Bulldogs 7 4 3 0 100.00 16
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