The AFL might have to get creative to fit in a full season this year and Craig Hutchison believes they should look at extending finals.
Whether it’s turning the Grand Final into a series of games or adding a wildcard round, he believes the league should do what it must to maximise what’s possible in 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis throws the fixture into turmoil.
“I favour a wildcard weekend for finals, I favour more finals and I favour maximising the fixture as best we can,” Hutchison told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.
“I think it is even more important now than it has ever been because our industry is on its knees and what we can do to create interest, stimulus, I guess revenue, fan engagement, all the metrics of the game should be dialled up rather than dialled down.
“And so for me, the chance to experiment with the season is now, not next year.
“Things like 12 or 10-team finals is a given for mine – I think that will happen, wildcard weekend, by the way. I have great confidence that there will be a version of that.
“I read with interest the idea of the best of three Grand Final series. If ever that was going to happen, it’ll be this year and rest assured it’ll be one of the things they’re considering, particularly given that they own Marvel Stadium, which could potentially be a venue for one, two or three of those games if they could solve that situation with the MCG.
“I’m not saying it will happen, but it will definitely be one of the considerations. These are the types of things as the season could span into October and November that are worth considering.”
Brisbane CEO Greg Swann would not stand in the way of Hutchison’s ideas, saying the clubs will do whatever they must in order to keep the game afloat.
“To be honest with you, nothing is off the table and I think everybody is really flexible in that regard,” Swann told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.
“We might be playing two or three times per week if we have to get a reasonable season off.
“I follow the NFL closely and they have the wildcard round and it is massive over there.
“If that was to happen that would be fine. I think whatever comes, so long as we can get footy back on, it would be fantastic if we can get crowds to come, but if you’re playing finals and that goes down to position 10 I don’t think anyone is going to complain because it is such a unique set of circumstances.
“If you can only play 14 games or whatever the number is, having an elongated finals series, I don’t think anyone would complain about that and same thing if we have to play two, three, four times per week, that’s what you have to do.
“We’ll do whatever is necessary and that flexibility is there I think from all the clubs … there’s definitely nothing off the table, that’s for sure.”