McLachlan: two byes a must for teams

Written By Unknown on Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012 | 14.43

Gillon McLachlan, right, with AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, says AFL teams can expect two byes. Picture: Andrew Filipovic Source: The Daily Telegraph

THE AFL fixture could look drastically different from next season as the league today strengthened its commitment to giving clubs two byes.

The 2013 season will kick off with two standalone Round 1 matches on the weekend of March 22.

That is the weekend, AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan said, all teams would ideally start to allow for a season that contains two byes and still concludes with a Grand Final on the last Saturday in September.


That cannot happen currently with cricket occupying the rights to the MCG, SCG and Gabba until the end of March.

Identifying ground availability as ``problematic for us'', McLachlan called on cricket and state governments to be ``pragmatic'' in their approach to the issue.

``They know very clearly our issue, we've made representations to the government,'' McLachlan said.

``I guess we're looking for some constructive solutions. I understand that if Victoria were to host the (Sheffield) Shield final theoretically they need the MCG, but what their minimum standards are and what they need to deliver that ... we're hoping to get some traction with that.

``At the moment it's not ideal.''

The AFL has again adopted the model it introduced this year, whereby six teams are given byes over three consecutive weeks in 2013.

Should cricket relinquish the rights to the 'G, that scenario would occur twice each year conceivably splitting the season in to thirds.

A centre of excellence for Cricket Victoria at the Junction Oval could be the answer to the problem, with plans in place to refurbish the ground to make it capable of hosting Sheffield Shield games.

Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide said the centre of excellence is the ``obvious solution'' for all parties.

However there is no suggestion such a refurbishment could take place in time for the 2014 season.

``We're certainly still pursuing that as hard as we can and working with the government to make that reality,'' Dodemaide said.

``But I guess the basics of it is that unless we have got somewhere else to go then there's nothing we can do. We simply don't have anywhere else to play first class cricket other than the MCG at the moment.''

The AFL Players Association has led the charge for additional breaks.

And AFLPA general manager of player relations Ian Prendergast said his organisation would continue to push the AFL on the issue.

``While we have been unable to achieve that for 2013 due to ground availability, we will continue to work with the AFL on the inclusion of two-byes for the 2014 season and are pleased that the AFL is making this a significant priority,'' Prendergast said.

McLachlan said the issue was understandably ``priority one, two and three'' for the players.

But he denied the push was related to the AFL's mooted move to a capped interchange system in 2014.

``Our players are crying out for a rest ... I think this is independent of that,'' McLachlan said.

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