Western Bulldogs won the 2018 Premiership, beating Brisbane Lions 27-21 in the grand final at Ikon Park. (Supplied: AFL Media.)
The AFLW has added an extra week of home-and-away fixtures and split the competition into two conferences ahead of the 2019 season, but teams will still miss out playing against every club.
AFLW Season 2019
- Ten teams split into two conferences
- Play a seven-season home-and-away season
- Four conference games, three cross-conference games
- Two-week finals series
- Season to start “first weekend” in February
It had been assumed the regular season would expand as the number of teams went up from eight to 10, with each team playing each other once over nine weeks before the finals series to accommodate Geelong and North Melbourne entering the competition.
Instead, teams will be split into two conferences of five teams each within a seven-week home-and-away season.
This is an increase from the original eight-week season [including finals] that provoked outrage when it was announced in August, being described as a “gimmicky tournament” by Melbourne’s Daisy Pearce.
Teams will play four intra-conference games and three cross-conference games ahead of a two-week finals series, scheduled to take place at the end of March.
That means that this season each side will miss out playing two teams in the league — unless they meet in the two-week finals series — which is seen as potentially compromising the competition.
Fremantle played their clash against Collingwood at Perth Stadium in Perth in front of 41,975 fans. (AAP: Tony McDonough)
“The AFLW competition has evolved quickly and we will continue to progress our competition by being innovative and unique and we see conferences as a part of this,” the AFL’s head of women’s football Nicole Livingstone said.
“Conferences will create competitions within the competition as our teams strive for a place in the finals.
“Season three sees two new teams join our competition, and we are excited to firstly provide more opportunity for women to play in the AFLW, and welcome the passionate supporter bases from North Melbourne, Tasmania and Geelong.”
Long term proponent for women’s AFL Susan Alberti said that despite there still being issues with the draw, the nine-week season was a better proposition than what was previously suggested.
“It’s better than what they proposed, so in some ways it’s a win for women’s footy,” she said.
“But it can’t continue like this. It’s only a short-term fix, particularly with more teams coming in from 2020.
“There needs to be more clarity going forward.”
However, supporters are still unhappy, with many taking to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction.
JOeyNicita tweet: In what world is a system where you DON’T GET TO PLAY EVERY OTHER TEAM IN THE COMP AT LEAST ONCE a good idea? Disgusted by the AFL today. Absolutely disgusted
Mr Blair Hughes tweet: A 7 week competition when teams don’t even play every team is ridiculous. However I for one can’t wait to get back out and support
The 2019 AFLW season is scheduled to start in the first weekend of February, with the two top teams in each conference contesting preliminary finals on the weekend of March 23-24.
The teams that finish on top of their respective conferences will host a preliminary final, with the grand final host to be determined by the team with the greatest number of wins in the home and away season and percentage, if needed.
The AFL Commission confirmed the recommendation to alter the competition format to conferences following the AFLW Competition Meeting earlier this week.
The make-up of each conference is yet to be determined, and will be released when the fixtures are set in October.