The AFL reboots prospect of a Wildcard Round
Destined, it would seem, to continue tinkering with the rules of the game and the structure of the competition, often to the dismay and umbrage of footy fans around the country, the AFL has revisited another contentious change which would flip the format of the finals on its head and rattle the loose change from its pockets.
A wildcard round.
The AFL Competition Committee met this week and the prospect of a wildcard round was plopped on the agenda for discussion, debate, consideration, and widespread ridicule.
In essence, at the conclusion of the home and away season, positions 1 through 6 would be locked in, while teams who finished in positions 7 to 10 would square off against each other in the Wildcard round, played in the week before the finals kick off. The winner of 7 vs 10 and 8 vs 9 would proceed to the finals proper.
Former Melbourne Demons champion David ‘Ox’ Schwarz is concerned a wildcard format would breed mediocrity.
“The idea of finals, and I like this, is if you’re not good enough to make the finals, you’re not partaking in finals,” Ox said on Drive.
“It’s like giving out white ribbons, ‘oh no, we’re not going to give out green ribbons for third, or red ribbons for second, what we’ll do it just give everyone white ribbons for participating, and we’ll pat each other on the back and say well done, you got lapped, but that’s ok’
“Sometimes in life, you lose, you can’t win all the time.”
“In most of our codes, less than half of the sides get the opportunity to play finals and I think that’s the beautiful thing about it.”
Proponents of the Wildcard round format argue it will give the competition a shot in the arm at the tail end of the season, creating a sense of theatre by making four teams desperately battle tooth and nail to secure the remaining two spots to play footy in September.
Drive co-host Matt Granland, filling in for Mark Allen, suggests the truth is more likely found by following the money.
“Is it not just another property for the AFL to sell to the broadcasters and say ‘we’ve got another week of finals here, and you can buy it,” Granland said.
Click PLAY to hear more from David ‘Ox’ Schwarz and Matt Granland: