Australian Football League

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This article is about the sporting league. For the sport itself, see Australian rules football.
Australian Football League
Current season, competition or edition:
2014 AFL season
Australian Football League.svg
Formerly Victorian Football League
(1897–1989)
Sport Australian rules football
Founded 1897
CEO Gillon McLachlan
Inaugural season 1897
No. of teams 18
Country Australia
Most recent champion(s) Hawthorn (12th premiership)
Most titles Carlton
Essendon (16 premierships each)
TV partner(s)
Sponsor(s) Toyota
Related competitions VFL, VFA, SANFL, WAFL
Official website afl.com.au

The Australian Football League (AFL) is the highest-level professional competition in the sport of Australian rules football. Through the AFL Commission, the AFL also serves as the sport's governing body, and is responsible for controlling the Laws of the Game. The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) as a breakaway from previous Victorian Football Association (VFA), with its inaugural season commencing in 1897. Originally comprising only teams based in the Australian state of Victoria, the competition's name was changed to the Australian Football League for the 1990 season, after expanding to other states throughout the 1980s.

The league currently consists of 18 teams spread over five states of Australia, although ten teams are based in Victoria. The AFL season currently consists of a pre-season competition (currently branded as the "NAB Challenge"), followed by a 23-round regular (or "home-and-away") season, which runs during the Australian winter (March to September). The top eight teams then play off in a finals series culminating in the AFL Grand Final, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground each year. The winning team in the Grand Final is termed the "premiers", and is awarded the premiership cup. The current premiers are Hawthorn.

History[edit]

1896–1914: VFL begins[edit]

Former VFL/AFL Logo (pre-1990) – now the logo of the Victorian Football League.

The Victorian Football League was established in 1896 when six of the strongest clubs in Victoria – Collingwood, Essendon, Fitzroy, Geelong, Melbourne and South Melbourne – broke away from the established Victorian Football Association to establish the new league. The six clubs invited two more VFA clubs – Carlton and St Kilda – to join the league for its inaugural season in 1897. Among the notable initiatives established in the new league was an annual finals tournament, rather than awarding the premiership directly to the team with the best record through the season; and, the formal establishment of the modern scoring system, in which six points are scored for a goal, and one point is scored for a behind.

Although the Victorian Football League and the Victorian Football Association continued to compete for spectator interest for many years, the VFL quickly established itself as the premier competition in Victoria. In the early years Fitzroy and Collingwood were the dominant teams. Following the arrival of Jack Worrall as coach in 1903, Carlton began a dominating period, during which they won three successive flags from 1906 to 1908; although Worrall was the club secretary, he took on a player management and direction role which is today recognised as the first official coaching job in the league. Essendon won flags in 1911 and 1912, also under Jack Worrall's coaching.

In 1908, the league expanded to ten teams, with Richmond crossing from the VFA and University from the Metropolitan Football Association. University, after three promising seasons, finished last each year from 1911 until 1914, including losing 51 matches in a row; this was in part caused by its' players focus on their studies rather than football, particularly during examinations, and it was partly because the club operated on an amateur basis at a time when player payments were becoming common – and as a result, the club withdrew from the VFL at the end of 1914. University teams now compete in the Victorian Amateur Football Association.[1][2]

From 1907 until 1914, the VFL premier and the premier of the Adelaide-based South Australian Football League met in a playoff match for the Championship of Australia.

1914–1945: Between the world wars[edit]

The VFL Grand Final in 1946 from the stands of the Melbourne Cricket Ground

In 1919, the VFL established a seconds/reserves competition to run alongside the senior competition. In 1924 the VFL inaugurated the Brownlow Medal for the player who received the most votes from the umpires for the Best and Fairest player. Richmond won its first Premierships in 1920 and 1921 but Essendon – battlers since their 1912 flag – took over as the dominant team between 1922 and 1926.

In 1925, the VFL expanded from nine teams to twelve, with Footscray, Hawthorn and North Melbourne each crossing from the VFA. North Melbourne and Hawthorn remained very weak in the VFL for a very long period. North Melbourne did not win more than eight games in a season until 1944 and Hawthorn only once won more than seven until 1954. Between them, Hawthorn and North Melbourne finished in last place fifteen of the twenty-nine years from their admittance until 1953. Footscray adapted to the VFL with the most ease of the three clubs, and by 1928 were well off the bottom of the ladder.

Between the years of 1927 and 1930, Collingwood became the first and so far, the only, team to win four successive Premierships. The club also finished the 1929 home-and-away season without losing a game, a feat yet to be repeated. This team became known as "the Machine" because of the organised and consistent way it played. With Premiership victories in 1935 and 1936, the Collingwood Football Club had already won 11 Premierships, four more than the next most successful club, Fitzroy (7).

In the 1930s, Richmond and South Melbourne rivaled Collingwood as the best team. Melbourne, which had won the Premiership in 1926 but fallen off sharply, developed a powerful attacking side that swept all before it between 1939 and 1941 to win three successive flags. Essendon, after a lean decade in the 1930s, enjoyed a dominant period with nine grand final appearances between 1941 and 1951.

1950s[edit]

In 1946, the VFL established an Under 19s grade of competition, to run alongside the seniors and reserves. In 1951, the McClelland Trophy was established as a prize for the best performing team across all three grades. In 1952, the VFL hosted 'National Day', when all six matches were played outside of Melbourne. Matches were played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Brisbane Exhibition Ground, North Hobart Oval, Albury Sports Ground and Victorian country towns Yallourn and Euroa.

In 1959, the VFL planned the first purpose built mega-stadium, VFL Park (later known as Waverley Park), to give it some independence from the Melbourne Cricket Club, which managed the Melbourne Cricket Ground. VFL Park was planned to hold 155,000 spectators, which would have made it one of the largest stadiums in the world – although it would ultimately be built with a capacity of 78,000. Land for the stadium was purchased at Mulgrave, in those days just farmland, but one day predicted to be near the demographic centre of Melbourne's population.

Geelong was the stand out team at the beginning of the 1950s, winning the Premiership in 1951 then setting an enduring record of 23 consecutive wins starting in Round 12, 1952 and ending in Round 13, 1953. This streak included the 1952 Premiership. Footscray became the first of the 1925 expansion teams to win the premiership in 1954.

Melbourne became a powerhouse during the 1950s and early 1960s under coach Norm Smith and star player Ron Barassi. The club contested seven consecutive Grand Finals from 1954 to 1960, winning five Premierships, including three in a row between 1955 and 1957.

Television coverage began in 1957, with direct telecasts of the final quarter permitted. At first, several channels competed through broadcasting different games. However, when the VFL found that television was reducing crowds, it decided that no coverage was to be allowed for 1960. In 1961, replays (in Melbourne) were introduced although direct telecasts were rarely permitted in Melbourne (other States and Territories, however, enjoyed live telecasts every Saturday afternoon).

The VFL Premiership Trophy was first awarded in addition to a pennant flag in 1959; essentially the same trophy design has been in use since.

1960s[edit]

In the 1960s, television began to have a huge impact. Spectators hurried home from games to watch replays and many former players took up positions as commentators on pre-game preview programs and post-game review programs. There were also several attempts at variety programs featuring VFL players, who generally succeeded in demonstrating that their skills were limited to the football ground.

The VFL played the first of a series of exhibition matches in 1962 in an effort to lift the international profile of the league.

Hawthorn won its first premiership in 1961, beating Footscray. Melbourne extended its success from the 1950s by winning the premiership in 1964, but its success ended abruptly when Barassi was recruited by Carlton as captain-coach after the season, followed by Norm Smith being sacked during the 1965 season. Melbourne would not return to the finals for twenty-three years, and (as of 2014) has not yet won another premiership.

St Kilda, which had never won a VFL or VFA premiership in more than 93 years of competition, won its first and, to date, only premiership, in a famous Grand Final victory against Collingwood by one point.

1970s[edit]

With the number of players recruited from country leagues increasing, the wealthier clubs were gaining an advantage that metropolitan zoning and the Coulter law (salary cap) restricting player payments had prevented in the past. Country zoning was introduced in the late 1960s, and whilst it pushed Essendon and Geelong from the top of the ladder, it created severe inequality during the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1972 and 1987, only six of the league's twelve clubs – Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Richmond – played in Grand Finals; by comparison, nine different clubs had contested Grand Finals between 1961 and 1967.

The 1970 season saw the opening of VFL Park, with the inaugural match being played between Geelong and Fitzroy, on 18 April 1970. Construction work was carried out at the stadium as the 1970s progressed, culminating in the building of the now heritage listed Sir Kenneth Luke stand. The Queen of Australia, Elizabeth II was a guest at the game and officially opened the stadium to the public. The 1970 Grand Final between traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood, arguably the league's most famous game, saw Carlton recover from a 44-point deficit at half-time to win the game by ten points, featured a famous spectacular mark by Alex Jesaulenko, and was witnessed by a record crowd of 121,696.

Carlton and Richmond won three premierships each between 1968–1974, facing each other in three Grand Finals. North Melbourne, after struggling for most of its time in the VFL, finally won its first premiership in 1975, and contesting the Grand Final each year from 1974–1978, winning two; three of those deciders were against fellow 1925 expansion team Hawthorn, who also won two premierships. Carlton won three premierships in four years from 1979–1982.

Among the notable rule changes made during the decade were:

  • The finals series was expanded from four teams to five in 1972.
  • The introduction of the centre diamond, later changed to a square, to limit the number of players allowed around the centre bounce to four per team.
  • The introduction of a second field umpire in 1976.
  • The introduction of unlimited interchange in 1978, replacing substitution, which had been in place previously.

1980s: National expansion[edit]

The 1980s was a period of significant structural change in Australian football around the country. The VFL was the most popular and dominant of the state leagues around the country in terms of overall attendance, interest, and money, and began to look towards expanding its influence directly into other states. The VFL and its top clubs already had the buying power to recruit top players from interstate. As a result of this, rising cost pressures were driving some of Victoria's weaker clubs into dire financial situations.

But in spite of the increasing dominance of Victoria, the country's three top leagues – the VFL, South Australia's SANFL and Western Australia's WAFL, with teams from all three leagues competing in the Night Series, a competition run separate to the league competitions on weekday evenings.

South Melbourne became the first VFL club to relocate interstate, and the club moved to Sydney to become the Sydney Swans in 1982; under the private ownership of wealthy Dr Geoffrey Edelsten during the mid-1980s, Sydney became a successful team on-field. In 1986, the West Australian Football League and Queensland Australian Football League were awarded licences to join the VFL as expansion teams, leading to the establishment of the West Coast Eagles and Brisbane Bears, who both joined the league in 1987. These expansion team licences were awarded on payment of multi-million dollar fees which were not required of the existing VFL clubs. Interstate clubs dropped out of the Night Series, and by 1987 it consisted solely of VFL clubs; it was shifted to become the modern day pre-season competition in 1988. In 1989, financial troubles nearly forced Footscray and Fitzroy to merge, but a fundraising event from Footscray supporters stopped the proposed merger at the eleventh hour.

The 1980s first saw new regular timeslots for VFL matches. VFL matches had previously been played on Saturday afternoons, but Sydney began playing its home matches on Sunday afternoons, and North Melbourne pioneered playing matches on Friday night. These have since become regular timeslots for all teams.

In the late 1980s, the former zoning arrangements which had led to such inequality between the stronger and weaker clubs began to be phased out. The first National Draft was introduced in 1986, and a salary cap was introduced in 1987. Over the following decade, these changes helped to equalise the clubs, minimising the ability for the richer clubs to dominate the league.

In 1984, there was a revival of the International Rules representative series, which had first been played in the 1960s. The matches were played with a hybrid set of rules based on Australian rules football and Gaelic football. It also began to pave the way for Gaelic footballers to convert to Australian football; pioneered by Melbourne and known as the Irish experiment, Irish players Sean Wight and Jim Stynes began their successful VFL/AFL careers in the mid-1980s. Many Irish players have since played professional AFL football.

On-field, the 1980s were dominated by Hawthorn, Essendon and Carlton: Hawthorn contested seven consecutive Grand Finals for four premierships; Carlton contested four Grand Finals for three flags; and Essendon contested three consecutive Grand Finals, all against Hawthorn, winning two, and establishing a bitter rivalry. In the process, Carlton and Essendon both passed Collingwood in terms of number of premierships won; since 1982, Carlton has continuously been the team with most premierships won, holding the position jointly with Essendon for much of that time. The 1989 Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong is considered one of the finest Grand Finals, with many strong physical encounters, a joint Grand Final record nine goals by Geelong's Gary Ablett, Sr., and Geelong coming back from a 36-point deficit at three quarter time to fall six points short of victory.

1990s: A new era[edit]

Former AFL Logo (1990–99)

The league was officially renamed the Australian Football League in 1990 to reflect the new national perspective;[3] the VFA later took over the Victorian Football League name in 1996. Functionally, the AFL gave up control over its Victorian-based minor grades at the end of 1991 – clubs continued to field reserves teams in the independent Victorian State Football League, while an entirely new under-18s competition (the TAC Cup) was established with new, zone-based clubs. Without minor grades, the McClelland Trophy was now awarded to the senior minor premiers.

Collingwood won the AFL Premiership in 1990, ending a 32-year premiership drought, which featured a string of near misses known as the Colliwobbles that had seen the club lose eight Grand Finals.

In 1990, the SANFL's most successful club, Port Adelaide, made a bid for an AFL licence. In response, the SANFL established a composite South Australian team called the Adelaide Crows, which was awarded the licence and joined the league in 1991 as the fourth interstate club. The same year saw the West Coast Eagles become the first interstate club reach the Grand Final, losing to Hawthorn; the Eagles would then win the premiership in 1992 and 1994. In 1994, the Fremantle Football Club was formed in Western Australia, and joined in the AFL in 1995, becoming the fifth interstate club.

In 1996, the VFL/AFL celebrated its centenary; the Australian Football Hall of Fame was established and the VFL/AFL Team of the Century was named. However, several Victorian clubs were in severe financial difficulties, most notably Fitzroy and Hawthorn. Hawthorn had proposed to merge with Melbourne to form the Melbourne Hawks, but the merger ultimately fell through and both teams continued as separate entities. For Fitzroy, however, the club was too weak to continue by itself; the club nearly merged with North Melbourne to form the Fitzroy-North Melbourne Kangaroos, but after the other clubs voted against it, the club merged with Brisbane to become the Brisbane Lions.[4] Fitzroy played its last match at the end of 1996.With the Brisbane-Fitzroy merger, Port Adelaide was awarded an AFL licence, and joined the league in 1997. The AFL rejected bids from Queensland club Southport Sharks and the Tasmanian government to enter teams.

Some of the rule changes of the decade included the introduction of a third field umpire in 1994, a blood rule in 1994, and the introduction of a third (1994) and fourth (1998) interchange player. The International Rules series against the Gaelic Athletic Association was revived again in 1998, and has become a semi-permanent fixture since. The finals series was expanded from five teams to six in 1991, and then to eight teams in 1994.

Through the 1990s, there was a significant trend of Melbourne-based teams abandoning the use of their small (20,000–30,000 capacity) suburban venues for home matches, in favour of the larger MCG and Waverley Park. The 1990s saw the last matches played at Windy Hill (Essendon), Moorabbin Oval (St Kilda), Western Oval (Footscray) and Victoria Park (Collingwood), and saw Princes Park abandoned by its long-term co-tenant Hawthorn. The transition to the use of only two venues in Melbourne was ultimately completed in 2005, when Carlton abandoned the use of Princes Park.

There was no dominant club in the latter part of the 1990s, although North Melbourne was the most successful, winning two premierships from three Grand Finals. Adelaide won two Grand Finals, and Carlton won one Grand Final from two appearances.

In 1999, the league sold Waverley Park stadium and used the funds in a joint venture to begin construction of a brand-new stadium situated at Melbourne's Docklands. Representative state football came to an end, with the last State of Origin match held in 1999.

2000s[edit]

[5]

An AFL match at Docklands Stadium

The AFL logo was again changed in 2000, with a new look intended to coincide with the new millennium. Rivals Collingwood and Carlton, played a pre-season match known as the 'Millennium Match' on New Year's Eve 1999. The new Docklands Stadium hosted its first match in Round 1, 2000, and it was the first AFL match played under a retractable roof. After Victorian State Football League ceased operation at the end of 1999, the Victorian-based AFL clubs established connections with the Victorian Football League (a rebranding of the former VFA), with clubs either fielding reserves teams in the VFL, or entering into affiliations with existing senior VFL clubs to serve as feeder teams.

The early 2000s were dominated by Essendon, Brisbane and Port Adelaide, who shared the five flags from 2000–2004. Essendon won minor premierships in 1999–2001, but converted only the 2000 season into a premiership; Essendon's 2000 season set an enduring record, with a win-loss record of 24–1 across the home and away season and finals, the best ever recorded. Brisbane contested four consecutive Grand Finals, winning three from 2001–2003. Port Adelaide won minor premierships in 2002–2004, and broke through for its first premiership in the 2004 season. The dominance of interstate clubs continued to six consecutive flags, with Sydney and West Coast facing each other in 2005 and 2006 Grand Finals for one flag each, with both matches decided by less than a goal.

The 2002 season saw the Carlton Football Club finish last, becoming the last of the twelve VFL clubs to win its first wooden spoon, before being heavily penalised for cheating the salary cap a few years earlier; the penalties saw Carlton stay near the bottom of the ladder for the next six years.

An AFL match at Football Park in Adelaide

A series of new rule changes were introduced for the 2006 season intended to speed up the game, allowing full-backs to kick in more quickly after a behind, and limiting the length of time that a player was allowed to hold the ball after a mark to 8  seconds for a mark in general play, and 30 seconds for a set shot.

Several teams established a regular presence in other parts of Australasia during the 21st century, generally by playing between one and four home matches in the alternative location. Among the notable contracts were including Hawthorn (Launceston), St Kilda (Launceston and Wellington[6]), North Melbourne (Gold Coast, Canberra and Hobart), Richmond (Cairns), Port Adelaide (Darwin) and the Western Bulldogs (Darwin).

In the late 2000s, the AFL looked to establish a permanent presence on the Gold Coast, which was fast-developing as a major population centre. North Melbourne, who was in financial difficulty and had played a few home games on the Gold Coast in previous years, was offered significant subsidies to relocate to the Gold Coast, but the club declined. The AFL then began work to establish a club on the Gold Coast as a new expansion team; the Gold Coast Suns were established, and joined the AFL in 2011 as the 17th team. The Greater Western Sydney Giants, based on both Western Sydney and Canberra, were then established, and entered the league as the 18th team in 2012.

Early in 2008, a meeting held by the AFL discussed having two new teams enter the AFL competition.[7] In March 2008, the AFL won the support of the league's 16 club presidents to establish a side on the Gold Coast and further also a side in Western Sydney they both would enter the competition in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

The AFL has also considered a bid from the Tasmanian government for a licence for a Tasmanian team.[8] A third team based in Sydney has been suggested.[9] A third team based in Perth has been suggested.[10] On 25 April 2013 the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand hosted the first ever Australian Football League game played for premiership points outside of Australia. The night game between St Kilda and Sydney was played in front of a crowd of 22,183 on Anzac Day to honour the Anzac bond between the two countries.[11][12] At the official pre-match function the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key used the occasion to raise the prospect of a New Zealand based AFL team, saying "Let's get real. We've got to get a New Zealand side in the AFL."[12]

2010s: Further expansion[edit]

In 2010, a licence was granted to the Greater Western Sydney Giants, a second Sydney-based team based at Homebush in Western Sydney. The team also plays some of its home games in Canberra, A.C.T.. Also in the 2010 season, the AFL experienced the third Grand Final draw in its history when St Kilda drew with Collingwood. The replay was staged 1 week later with Collingwood running out premiers.

In 2011 new club, the Gold Coast Suns entered the league[13] having been granted a licence in 2009. In the 2011 season Geelong returned to the Grand Final and defeated Collingwood. In 2012 the Greater Western Sydney Giants joined the league and played their first season finishing in last place. Sydney won their 5th premiership defeating Hawthorn, but Hawthorn would redeem themselves one year later by defeating Fremantle to win the 2013 title. This also marked Fremantle's first Grand Final since joining the competition in 1995.

The 2014 season marked Andrew Demetriou's last as CEO of the AFL. He announced his retirement from the position and stepped down in June 2014 being replaced by Gillon McLachlan. The 2014 season also saw Peta Searle become the first woman appointed as a development coach in the AFL when she joined St Kilda.[14]

Clubs[edit]

Australia Melbourne Inner Locator.PNG

The AFL operates on a single table system, with no divisions, conferences nor promotion and relegation from other leagues.

The league was founded as the Victorian Football League (VFL) in 1897, consisting of eight teams only based in the Australian state of Victoria. Over the next century, a series of expansions, a relocation, a merger and a club withdrawal saw the leagues teams expand to the 18 teams there are today.

The current 18 teams are based across 5 states of Australia. The majority (10) still remain in Victoria, while the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have two each. In 1990 the national nature of the competition resulted in the name change to the Australian Football League.

Current clubs[edit]

Former clubs[edit]

Since the Australian Football League commenced in 1897 as the Victorian Football League, only one club has left the competition, the Melbourne University Football Club; it last competed in 1914, and withdrew because, as a strictly amateur club, it became unable to remain competitive in a time when player payments were becoming common;[1][2] the club still competes to this day in the Victorian Amateur Football Association. Two other clubs, the Fitzroy Football Club (Fitzroy Lions) and the Brisbane Bears, merged in 1996 to form the Brisbane Lions.

Venues[edit]

Melbourne, Victoria Sydney, New South Wales Melbourne, Victoria Adelaide, South Australia
Melbourne Cricket Ground Stadium Australia Docklands Stadium Adelaide Oval
Capacity: 100,024 Capacity: 82,500 Capacity: 56,347 Capacity: 53,583
AFL Grand Final 2010 on the Melbourne Cricket Ground.jpg ANZ Stadium, Essendon.jpg Aerial view of Etihad Stadium.jpg Completed Adelaide Oval 2014 - cropped and rotated.jpg
Sydney, New South Wales Brisbane, Queensland
Sydney Cricket Ground The Gabba
Capacity: 48,000 Capacity: 42,000
SCG members.jpg The Gabba Panorama.jpg
Perth, Western Australia Geelong, Victoria
Subiaco Oval Kardinia Park
Capacity: 43,500 Capacity: 33,500

Patersonstadium.JPG

Skilled-stadium-geelong.jpg
Gold Coast, Queensland Sydney, New South Wales Launceston, Tasmania Hobart, Tasmania
Carrara Stadium Sydney Showground Stadium York Park Bellerive Oval
Capacity: 25,000 Capacity: 25,000 Capacity: 21,000 Capacity: 16,200
Adelaide v Gold Coast - Carrara crowd.jpg Skoda Stadium.png Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs - 31st May 2008 181.jpg Bellerive oval hobart.jpg
Canberra, ACT Darwin, Northern Territory Cairns, Queensland Traeger Park, Northern Territory
Manuka Oval Marrara Stadium Cazaly's Stadium Traeger Park
Capacity: 15,000 Capacity: 15,000 Capacity: 12,000 Capacity: 10,000
Manuka Oval.JPG TIO Stadium.jpg Cazaly's Stadium.jpg Traeger Park 4916.jpg

Throughout the history of the VFL/AFL, there have been a total of 42 different grounds used, with 14 used during the 2014 season.[15] The largest capacity ground in use is the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which has a capacity of over 100,000 people, and hosts the Grand Final each year.[16] The MCG is shared by five teams as a home ground, whilst the other grounds used as home venues by multiple teams are Docklands Stadium in Melbourne (five teams), Stadium Australia in Sydney (two teams), Adelaide Oval in Adelaide (two teams), and Subiaco Oval in Perth (two teams).

Prior to the expansion of the competition, most grounds were located in suburban Melbourne, with Princes Park, Victoria Park, the Junction Oval, Waverley Park, and the Lake Oval each having hosted over 700 games.[15] However, since the introduction of a national competition, each state and territory of Australia has hosted AFL games.[17]

On 25 April 2013 (Anzac Day), a match took place between St Kilda and Sydney at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, being the first AFL match played outside Australia for official premiership points.[18] At the end of 2013 a new five-year deal was announced that will see St Kilda play a match on Anzac Day at the stadium every year until 2018.[19]

Players[edit]

AFL players are drawn from a number of sources; however, most players enter the league through the AFL draft, held at the end of each season. A small number of players have converted from other sports, or been recruited internationally. Prior to the nationalisation of the competition, a zoning system was in place. At the end of the season, the best 22 players and coach from across the competition are selected in the All-Australian team.

Close up of ruckwork from a Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs game at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne with the roof open

The AFL has tight controls over the player lists of each club. Currently, apart from the recently added expansion clubs who have some additional players, each team can have a senior list of 38 to 40 players plus 4 to 6 rookie players, to a total of 44 players[20] (following a reduction by two of the number of rookies in 2012) and up to three development rookies (international, alternate talent or New South Wales scholarship players).[21] Changes to playing lists are permitted only in the off-season: clubs can trade players during a "trade period" which follows each season and recruit new players through the three AFL drafts, the national draft, the pre-season draft and the rookie draft, which take place after the trade period. A mid-year draft was conducted between 1990 and 1993.[22] The national draft is the primary method of recruiting new players and has been used since 1986. The draft order is based on reverse-finishing position from the previous year, but selections can be traded. Free agency player movements have only been permitted since the 2012/13 offseason,[23] having been rejected by the AFL commission previously.[24]

Salary cap[edit]

Main article: AFL salary cap

A salary cap (known as the Total Player Payments or TPP) is also in place as part of the league's equalisation policy; this is A$9,130,000 for the 2013 season with a salary floor of $8,673,500 except for the Gold Coast, whose salary cap will be A$9,630,000 with a salary floor of $9,171,500, and Greater Western Sydney, whose salary cap is $9,987,000 with a floor of $9,530,500. As part of the AFL's enhanced equalisation policies, in 2014 the league announced an increase of the TPP for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. TPP increases an additional $150,000 per club in 2015 above previously contracted amounts, increasing from $9.92m to $10.07m in 2015 and $10.22m to $10.37m in 2016.[25]

The salary cap was set at A$1.25 million for 1987–1989 as per VFL agreement, with the salary floor set at 90% of the cap or $1.125 million; the salary floor was increased to 92.5% of the cap in 2001, and 95% of the cap for 2013 due to increased revenues. Both the salary cap and salary floor has increased substantially since the competition was rebranded as the AFL in 1990.

Salaries of draft selections are fixed for two years. Salaries for senior players are not normally released to the public, though the average AFL player salary at the conclusion of the 2012 season was $251,559[26] and the top few players can expect to earn up to and above $1,000,000 a year.[27] Upon successfully trading to the Sydney Swans in 2013, marquee player Lance Franklin signed a 9 year contract with the club, reportedly worth over $10 million and resulting in subsequent payments of $1.8 million annually in consecutive seasons.[28] The Total Player Earnings (TPE) – or total amount of revenue spent on reimbursement of AFL listed players – at the conclusion of the 2012 season was $173.7 million, up by 13 per cent from $153.7 million in 2011.[26]

The breaches of the salary cap and salary floor regulations outlined by the AFL are: exceeding the TPP; falling below the salary floor; not informing the AFL of payments; late or incorrect lodgement or loss of documents; or engaging in draft tampering. Penalties include fines of up to triple the amount involved ($10,000 for each document late or incorrect lodged or lost), forfeiture of draft picks and/or deduction of premiership points. The most significant breach of the salary cap was that of the Carlton Football Club in the early 2000s.

Demographics[edit]

Matthew Pavlich, a South Australian playing for Western Australia-based club Fremantle jumps to mark the ball at the MCG against Melbourne.

There were 801 players on AFL club senior, veteran, rookie and international lists in 2011, including players from every state and mainland territory of Australia.[29]

Indigenous Australian players[edit]

As of 2014, there are 68 players of Indigenous Australian descent on AFL club lists, comprising approximately 9% of the overall playing population.[30]

International players[edit]

There were 12 players recruited from outside of Australia on AFL lists in 2011, including 10 from Ireland, all converts from Gaelic football drafted as part of the Irish Experiment. The other two players are Seamus McNamara (Collingwood) and Mike Pyke (Sydney), recruited from the United States and Canada respectively.

There were also another five overseas-born players who emigrated to Australia at an early age on AFL lists.[31]

An international rookie list and international scholarship list were introduced in 2006. The international rookie list includes up to two players between the ages of 15 and 23 who are not Australian citizens. These players may remain on this list for up to three years before they must be transferred to the senior or rookie list. For the first year, payments made to international-rookie-listed players fall outside the salary cap. The international scholarship list gives AFL clubs the option of recruiting up to eight players from outside Australia (other than Ireland). Irish players are required to either be placed on clubs' senior or rookie lists.[32] At the beginning of 2011 there were 14 international scholarship players.[33]

Season structure[edit]

Pre-season[edit]

From 1988 until 2013, the AFL ran a pre-season competition that finished prior to the commencement of the premiership season, which served as both warm-up matches for the season and as a stand-alone competition. It was mostly contested as a four-week knock out tournament, but the format changed after the expansion of the league beyond sixteen clubs in 2011. The competition has frequently been used to trial rule changes. In 2014, the competition format was abandoned, and practice matches are now played under the sponsored name NAB Challenge.

Premiership season[edit]

See also: 2014 AFL season

The AFL home-and-away season at present lasts for 23 rounds, starting in late March and ending in early September. As of the 2013 AFL season, each team plays 22 matches, with one bye. Teams receive four premiership points for a win and two premiership points for a draw. Ladder finishing positions are based on the number of premiership points won, and "percentage" (calculated as the ratio of points scored to points conceded throughout the season) is used as a tie-breaker when teams finish with equal premiership points. At the end of the home-and-away season, the McClelland Trophy is awarded to the minor premiers.

2014 AFL premiership WCE vs Collingwood match at Subiaco Oval

Themed rounds and special matches[edit]

Some rounds of the season are named as themed rounds, such as Rivalry Round (in which traditional rivals are matched up against each other), Women's Round and Heritage Round (where teams play in old style guernseys). Some matches are also themed for special events. For example, each year Collingwood play Essendon in the annual ANZAC Day match at the MCG and the game will typically sell out regardless of the positions of the two teams on the ladder due to their strong rivalry and huge followings. Another annual match is the Queen's Birthday game between Melbourne and Collingwood. As of 2006, Richmond and Essendon play in the Dreamtime at the 'G match. There are separate trophies for the matches between several clubs and former rivalries such as the Lake Trophy between St Kilda and the Sydney Swans.

Finals Series[edit]

The top eight teams at the end of the AFL Premiership season compete in a four-week finals series throughout September, culminating in a Grand Final to determine the premiers. The Grand Final is traditionally played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the afternoon of the last Saturday in September.

The winning team receives a silver premiership cup and a navy blue premiership flag – a new one of each is manufactured each year. The flag has been presented since the league began, and is traditionally unfurled at the team's first home game of the following season. The trophy was first introduced in 1959, and is manufactured annually by Cash's International at their metalworks in Frankston, Victoria.[34] Additionally, each player in the Grand Final-winning team receives a premiership medallion.

List of VFL/AFL Grand Finalists[edit]

Teams Premiers Runner Up Total Year(s) won Year(s) lost
Essendon Bombers 16 14 30 1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000 1898, 1902, 1908, 1941, 1943, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1957, 1959, 1968, 1983, 1990, 2001
Carlton Blues 16 13 29 1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995 1904, 1909, 1910, 1916, 1921, 1932, 1949, 1962, 1969, 1973, 1986, 1993, 1999
Collingwood Magpies 15 26 41 1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010 1901, 1905, 1911, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1925, 1926, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 2002, 2003, 2011
Hawthorn Hawks 12 6 18 1961, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008, 2013, 2014 1963, 1975, 1984, 1985, 1987, 2012
Melbourne Demons 12 5 17 1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964 1946, 1954, 1958, 1988, 2000
Richmond Tigers 10 12 22 1920, 1921, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980 1919, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1972, 1982
Geelong Cats 9 9 18 1925, 1931, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1963, 2007, 2009, 2011 1897, 1930, 1953, 1967, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1995, 2008
Fitzroy Lions 8 5 13 1898, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1913, 1916, 1922, 1944 1900, 1903, 1906, 1917, 1923
Sydney Swans
(Formerly South Melbourne)
5 11 16 1909, 1918, 1933, 2005, 2012 1899, 1907, 1912, 1914, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1945, 1996, 2006, 2014
North Melbourne Kangaroos 4 5 9 1975, 1977, 1996, 1999 1950, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1998
West Coast Eagles 3 2 5 1992, 1994, 2006 1991, 2005
Brisbane Lions 3 1 4 2001, 2002, 2003 2004
Adelaide Crows 2 0 2 1997, 1998
St Kilda Saints 1 6 7 1966 1913, 1965, 1971, 1997, 2009, 2010
Footscray/Western Bulldogs 1 1 2 1954 1961
Port Adelaide Power 1 1 2 2004 2007
Fremantle Dockers 0 1 1 2013
  • Of the current 18 teams in the AFL, only the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Gold Coast Suns are yet to compete in a Grand Final.

† Defunct club

Awards[edit]

Awards that can be won by players during the season include the Brownlow Medal, awarded to the player judged the "fairest and best" throughout the regular season; the Coleman Medal, awarded to the player kicking the most goals throughout the regular season; the Norm Smith Medal, awarded to the player judged best on ground in the Grand Final; and the Rising Star Award, given to the most outstanding young player in the competition.

Major annual awards[edit]

Team of the Century[edit]

To celebrate the 100th season of the AFL, the "AFL Team of the Century" was named in 1996.

AFL Team of the Century
B: Bernie Smith (Geelong, West Adelaide) Stephen Silvagni (Carlton) John Nicholls (Carlton)
HB: Bruce Doull (Carlton) Ted Whitten (Footscray) Captain Kevin Murray (Fitzroy, East Perth)
C: Francis Bourke (Richmond) Ian Stewart (Hobart, St Kilda, Richmond) Keith Greig (North Melbourne)
HF: Alex Jesaulenko (Carlton, St Kilda) Royce Hart (Richmond) Dick Reynolds (Essendon)
F: Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn) John Coleman (Essendon) Haydn Bunton, Sr. (Fitzroy, Subiaco, Port Adelaide)
Foll: Graham Farmer (Geelong, East Perth, West Perth) Ron Barassi (Melbourne, Carlton) Bob Skilton (South Melbourne)
Int: Gary Ablett, Sr. (Hawthorn, Geelong) Jack Dyer (Richmond) Greg Williams (Geelong, Sydney, Carlton)
Coach: Norm Smith (Melbourne, Fitzroy, South Melbourne)


Jack Elder was declared the Umpire of the Century to coincide with the Team of the Century. Since the naming of this side, most AFL clubs have nominated their own teams of the century. An Indigenous Team of the Century was also selected in 2005, featuring the best Aboriginal players of the previous 100 years from both the VFL/AFL and other state leagues.

Records[edit]

Records are correct to the end of the 2014 AFL season
  • Most AFL/VFL premierships
    Essendon – 16 (most recent 2000) and Carlton – 16 (most recent 1995)
  • Most consecutive AFL/VFL premierships
    Collingwood – 4
    1927–1930
  • Highest score
    Geelong 37.17 (239) defeated Brisbane Bears 11.9 (75)
    Carrara Stadium, 3 May 1992
  • Highest winning margin
    190 points – Fitzroy 36.22 (238) defeated Melbourne 6.12 (48)
    Waverley Park, 28 July 1979
  • Highest aggregate score
    52.33 (345) – Melbourne 21.15 (141) lost to St Kilda 31.18 (204)
    MCG, 6 May 1978
  • Highest score in one quarter
    South Melbourne – 17.4 (106) vs. St Kilda 0.0 (0) in 4th quarter
    Lake Oval, 26 July 1919
    Final score: South Melbourne 29.15 (189) vs. St Kilda 2.6 (18)
  • Largest crowd
    Carlton v Collingwood – 121,696
    MCG, 26 September 1970 (Grand Final)
  • Largest home and away season crowd
    Melbourne v Collingwood – 99,346
    MCG, 1958
  • Largest international crowd
    Melbourne v Sydney – 32,789
    B.C. Place, Vancouver, Canada, 1987
  • Most last placed finishes at the end of the home and away season
    St Kilda – 27
  • Most games won
    Collingwood – 1485
  • Most games won in a season
    Essendon – 2000
    24 (incl. finals)
  • Undefeated in a home and away season
    Collingwood
    1929
  • Most grand final appearances
    Collingwood – 43
  • Most consecutive grand final appearances
    Melbourne – 7 (between 1954 and 1960) and Hawthorn – 7 (between 1983 and 1989)
  • Most finals series appearances
    Collingwood – 80
  • Most consecutive finals series appearances
    Hawthorn – 13 (between 1982 and 1994)
  • Most consecutive wins
    Geelong – 23
    1952–1953
  • Most consecutive games unbeaten
    Geelong – 26
    1952–1953
  • Most consecutive losses
    University – 51 (1911–1914)
  • Most games played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 426 games
  • Most finals played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 39 games
  • Most grand finals played in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 11
  • Most premierships won in a career
    Michael Tuck (Hawthorn) – 7
  • Most games as club captain
    Stephen Kernahan (Carlton) – 226 games
  • Most goals in a career
    Tony Lockett (St Kilda/Sydney) – 1,360 goals
  • Most goals in finals
    Gordon Coventry (Collingwood) – 111 goals
  • Most goals in a game
    Fred Fanning (Melbourne) – 18 goals
    30 August 1947
  • Most goals in a season (including finals)
    Bob Pratt (South Melbourne, 1934) 150 goals
    Peter Hudson (Hawthorn, 1971) 150 goals
  • Most consecutive matches
    Jim Stynes (Melbourne) – 244
  • Most consecutive matches from debut
    Jared Crouch (Sydney) – 194
  • Tallest player
    Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) 211 cm
    Peter Street (Geelong/Western Bulldogs) 211 cm
  • Shortest player
    James "Nipper" Bradford (North Melbourne/Collingwood) – 154 cm
  • Heaviest player
    Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle) – 124 kg
  • Longest kick
    Fred Fanning (Melbourne) – 76.15m (116 yards, 3¼ inches)
  • Heaviest suspension
    Doug Fraser and Alex Lang (Carlton) – 99 matches (bribery) from 1910 to 1915
  • Heaviest suspension for an on-field incident
    Fred Rutley (North Melbourne) – 89 matches (2 x kicking, 3 x striking and melee involvement) from 1925 to 1930
  • Heaviest fine imposed on club
    A$2,000,000 imposed on Essendon 2013 (bringing the AFL into disrepute)
  • Heaviest fine imposed on player
    A$50,000 imposed on Kurt Tippett of Adelaide in 2012 (involvement in violations of salary cap regulations and draft tampering, Tippett was also suspended for 11 matches)
  • Heaviest fine imposed on coach
    A$30,000 – imposed on Mark 'Bomber' Thompson (senior assistant coach) of Essendon in 2013 for his part (charged for bringing the game into disrepute alongside James Hird and Danny Corcoran) in the Essendon Football Club supplements controversy

Representative football[edit]

State football[edit]

There is currently no official state representation for AFL players despite the concept being well supported among fans and calls to re-introduce a State of Origin series.[35][36]

History of the VFL/AFL's involvement[edit]

VFL players first represented the Victoria representative team in 1897 regardless of their state of origin.

Being the dominant league drawing many of the country's best players, the Victoria Australian rules football team (nicknamed the "Big V" and composed mostly of VFL players) dominated interstate matches until the introduction of State of Origin selection criteria by the Australian Football Council (of which the VFL was a member) in 1977.

The AFL Commission assumed control of interstate football in 1993 and co-ordinated an annual State of Origin series typically held during a mid-season bye round. However after the 1999 series, the AFL declared the concept of interstate football "on hold" citing club's unwillingness to release star players and a lack of public interest and shifted its focus of representative football to the International Rules Series where it draws a greater television revenue.

The last time AFL players played formal interstate football was in the 1999 State of Origin Series when Victoria inflicted a massive defeat on South Australia in wet conditions in front of a crowd of 26,063. Just 10 years earlier, the same match with a plethora of star players attracted a crowd of 91,960.

A once-off representative match, known as the AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match was played in 2008 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the sport. The match was played between a team of players of Victorian origin and a team of players of interstate origin (the "Dream Team")

Some past AFL players participate and help promote the E. J. Whitten Legends Game, however this event is not affiliated with or promoted by the AFL.

International Rules Series[edit]

The International Rules Series is an annual competition played twice every three years between AFL listed players from Australia and Gaelic footballers from Ireland. The series is organised under the auspices of the AFL and the Gaelic Athletic Association. The game itself is a hybrid sport, consisting of rules from both Australian football and Gaelic football. The series provides the only outlet for AFL players to represent their nation.

Administration[edit]

Main article: AFL Commission

The AFL Commission is responsible for the administration of the AFL. It was established in December 1985 after club parochialism and self-interest threatened to undermine the competition.

The Commission's chairman is Mike Fitzpatrick, a former Subiaco and Carlton player, and the Chief Executive is Gillon McLachlan, who officially took over from Andrew Demetriou on the 4th June, 2014.

The Commission's composition remains almost exclusively Victorian based with one exception, Bob Hammond from South Australia.

In addition to administering the national competition, the AFL is heavily involved in promoting and developing the sport in Australia. It provides funds for local leagues and in conjunction with local clubs, administers the Auskick program for young boys and girls.

The AFL also plays a leading role in developing the game outside Australia, with projects to develop the game at junior level in other countries (e.g. South Africa) and by supporting affiliated competitions around the world (See Australian football around the world).

The players of the AFL are represented by the AFL Players Association.

Audience[edit]

The AFL is the best-attended sporting league in Australia,[37] and averaged 33,461 people per game over the 2013 season, giving AFL the 4th highest average attendance figures of any professional sport in the world.[38] According to market research, the AFL is the second-most-watched sporting event in Australia, behind cricket.[39] Currently, broadcast rights for the AFL are shared between the Seven Network (free-to-air), Foxtel and Austar (pay TV), and Telstra (internet). At the end of the 2013 season, a record 756,717 people were members of an AFL club.[40]

Attendance[edit]

The following are the most recent season attendances:

Year Home and Away Average Finals1 Average1 Grand Final
2014 6,403,941 32,343 570,568 63,396 99,454
2013 6,372,784 32,186 558,391 62,043 100,007
2012 6,238,876 31,509 538,934 59,882 99,683
2011 6,533,138 34,937 614,250 68,250 99,537
2010 6,494,564 36,901 651,764 65,176 100,0164 and 93,8535
2009 6,375,622 36,225 615,463 68,385 99,251
2008 6,512,999 37,0062 571,760 63,258 100,012
2007 6,475,521 36,793 575,424 63,936 97,302
2006 6,204,056 35,250 532,178 59,131 97,431
2005 6,283,788 35,703 480,112 53,346 91,8983
2004 5,909,836 33,579 458,326 50,925 77,6713
2003 5,876,515 33,389 478,425 53,158 79,4513
2002 5,648,021 32,091 449,445 49,938 91,817
2001 5,919,026 33,631 525,993 58,444 91,482
2000 5,731,091 32,563 566,562 62,951 96,249
1999 5,768,611 32,776 472,007 52,445 94,228
1998 6,119,861 34,772 572,733 63,637 94,431
1997 5,853,449 33,258 560,406 62,267 99,645
1996 5,222,266 29,672 478,773 53,197 93,102
1995 5,119,694 29,089 594,919 66,102 93,678

1 Finals total and Finals average include Grand Final crowds.
2 Record.
3 Capacity reduced due to MCG refurbishment.
4 Crowd for the drawn Grand Final.
5 Crowd for the Grand Final Replay, played one week after the drawn Grand Final.

Television[edit]

Australian television[edit]

AFL matches are currently broadcast in Australia by the free-to-air Seven Network, subscription television provider Foxtel, and digital content provider Telstra. The 5 year deal, announced in April 2011, covers the 2012-2016 (inclusive) seasons. Telstra won the rights to broadcast one live match per week via IP Television and on its Telstra Mobile service. The deal was confirmed when the Seven Network, Foxtel and Telstra agreed to pay A$1.253 billion to the Australian Football League to broadcast every match of every round and all of the Finals Series across their platforms.[41] As part of the agreement, Austar broadcasts Foxtel`s AFL coverage in the regional areas of Australia that are not part of Foxtel`s service area. Regional free-to-air broadcasters associated with the Seven Network – Prime7, GWN7, Seven Queensland, Southern Cross Television and WIN Television – all show Seven's coverage in their respective areas.

The Seven Network broadcasts four games from every round of the regular premiership season, as well as the AFL Finals Series and the AFL Grand Final. Foxtel broadcasts every match from every round, including simulcasts of all Seven Network games except for the Grand Final (which Seven shows exclusively live). Coverage is also available via Foxtel`s IP television service (Foxtel on T-Box).

Telecast History[edit]

1957 was the first VFL season after the commencement of television in Australia (introduced in 1956 to coincide with the Melbourne Olympic Games). During the late 1950s and 60s, all Melbourne stations (ABV2, HSV7, GTV9 and, after it commenced in 1965, ATV0/ATV10) broadcast some games. However, in the late 1950s / early 60s, the VFL was afraid that direct telecasts may affect attendances and stations were only permitted to telecast a delayed replay of the last quarter of games. In the 1980s, the Seven Network was given exclusive rights to VFL/AFL games. The only year Seven didn't telecast games was 1987, when the rights were bought by Broadcom, which on-sold the rights to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The exclusive rights were won back by Seven in 1988.

With the launch of subscription television in Australia, AFL match coverage commenced on cable television. Optus Vision bid for and won exclusive pay TV rights from 1996–2001, screening coverage on its own 24 hour AFL channel, branded Sports AFL in Brisbane Sydney and Melbourne (where available). The Sports AFL channel was later closed due to financial issues and relaunched in March 1999 as C7 Sport by the Seven Network with AFL match coverage also transferred to the new channel. C7 Sport became available in regional areas not in the Foxtel or Optus Vision licence area via Austar soon after the re-launch. The AFL coverage was not available through Foxtel at this time as the Seven Network and Foxtel disagreed on the cost of carrying the C7 channel. These issues regarding C7 and AFL broadcsting rights evolved into a court case between not just the Seven Network and News Limited, but Seven against the owners of the Nine Network and Network Ten in the years that followed.

In late 2000, the Seven Network's main rivals, the Kerry Packer led Nine Network, Network Ten and pay-TV's Foxtel set up a consortium which bid $500 million for the right to broadcast the 20022006 seasons inclusive. Seven had purchased a guaranteed right to make the last bid in 1995,[42] but decided not to outbid their rivals.[43] The games were split between the networks, with Nine screening Friday Night Football and two matches on Sunday, Ten screened a Saturday afternoon and a Saturday night match, with the remaining four matches shown on Foxtel. Foxtel set up its own version of a dedicated AFL-only channel, the Fox Footy Channel, which showed every game on replay during the week as well as many news, talkback and general interest shows related to Australian rules football.[44]

When the rights were offered again in January 2006 for the 2007 to 2011 seasons, Seven formed an alliance with Ten and used its guaranteed last bid rights to match Nine's offer of $780 million to win back the broadcast rights in what was the biggest sport telecasting deal in Australian history at the time. After lengthy negotiations, Foxtel agreed to be a broadcast partner and now showed four live matches each week, although no longer on a dedicated AFL channel.[42] Seven took back the Friday night match and only one game on Sunday, while Ten retained showing two matches on Saturdays. Foxtel showed two games on Saturday and two on Sunday, including a late afternoon or twilight game.[45]

International broadcast partners[edit]

Historically AFL broadcasts in other countries have varied.

In the 1980s, VFL matches were shown in the United States on ESPN for some time. In the early 1990s, Prime Network, an American regional sports network unrelated to the Australian regional television network, aired Seven's weekly highlight show as well as the Grand Final. Some other English speaking countries have shown the game, however it has been since 2008 that channels in other countries began televising matches. Between 1998 and 2006 the games were broadcast in the United States by the Fox Sports World network.[46]

In 2007, after the record domestic television rights deal, the AFL secured an additional bonus: greater international television rights and increase exposure to overseas markets, including a 5 year deal with Setanta Sports, and new deals with other overseas pay-TV networks. The deal ended early in 2009 when Setanta stopped broadcasting into Great Britain. ESPN again took up the contract.[47]

The following countries are ranked by the approximate extent of their current television coverage (and whether it is free to air):

Station/Channel Countries Free/Subscription Home & Away Finals Grand Final Broadcasting since Notes
ESPN Africa Africa Subscription 1 game per week (live/delay) Live See also Australian rules football in Africa
TSN2 Canada Subscription Live See also Australian rules football in Canada, AFANA
DirecTV Sports Caribbean
South America
Subscription 4 games per week (live/highlights/replay) Live Live
TG4 Ireland Free One game per week (highlights) See also Australian rules football in Ireland
UPC Ireland Ireland Subscription See also Australian rules football in Ireland
EM TV Papua New Guinea Free 1–3 per week (highlights) Live Live See also Australian rules football in Papua New Guinea
Fiji TV Fiji Free 1 (live/replay) Live Live See also Australian rules football in Fiji
International Channel Shanghai Peoples Republic of China Free 1 (live) Live Live See also Australian rules football in China
Australia Network Asia-Pacific region, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East Free (Subscription in some) 5 per week Yes Live
Eurosport 2 Europe Free One game per week (highlights/live/replay) Live See also Australian rules football in Europe
Fox Sports Israel Israel Subscription See also Australian rules football in the Middle East
SKY Sports México
Central America
Subscription Four games per week (highlights/live/replay) Live Live
ShowSports 2 Middle East, Asia Subscription
Sommet Sports New Zealand Free All matches live or delayed + Highlights Live Live 2013 See also Australian rules football in New Zealand
Sky Sport New Zealand Subscription 1–2 (live/delayed) + highlights See also Australian rules football in New Zealand
Canal+ (Spain) Spain Free highlights, delayed matches 2009 See also Australian rules football in Spain
Sky Digital United Kingdom Subscription See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom
BT Sport United Kingdom Subscription 2014 See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom
ESPN UK United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland Subscription 3 games per week (highlights/live/replay) 2009 See also Australian rules football in the United Kingdom, See also Australian rules football in Ireland
Fox Sports 2 United States Subscription 4 games during the season Yes See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA
Fox Soccer Plus United States Subscription 4 games during the season Yes Yes See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA
MHz Worldview United States Subscription "Game of the Week" (one-week delay) (highlights) Live See also Australian rules football in the United States, AFANA

Global[edit]

The AFL has stated that it wishes to showcase the footballing code to other countries such as India, China and South Africa so as to create a global following thus creating more exposure for its sponsors in the increasing Asian and African markets.[48] On 17 October 2010, AFL clubs Melbourne Demons and Brisbane Lions played an exhibition game in front of almost 10,000 people at the Riverside Sports Center in Shanghai.[citation needed] This was the first professional AFL game to be played in China.

The AFL has garnered increased interest in Ireland due to the introduction of the International Rules series played between an AFL picked All Australian Team and Ireland.[citation needed] This paved the way for young Irish footballers to be rostered to AFL teams mainly due to the fact that salaries in the AFL are much larger than that of Gaelic Football although most Irish players fail to make the grade into 1st team football.[49] This also paved the way for extended news coverage and increased broadcasting in the UK and Ireland.[citation needed]

Radio[edit]

The first broadcast of a VFL game was by 3AR in 1923, the year that broadcasting officially commenced in Australia. The first commentator was Wallace (Jumbo) Shallard, a former Geelong player who went on to have a long and respected career in print and broadcast media. The VFL/AFL has been broadcast every year since then by the ABC and (since 1927) by various commercial stations. The saturation period was the early 1960s when seven of the eight extant radio stations (3AR, 3UZ, 3DB, 3KZ, 3AW, 3XY and 3AK) broadcast VFL games each week, as well as broadcasts of Geelong games by local station 3GL. (At this time, the only alternative that radio listeners had to listening to the football on a Saturday afternoon were the classical music and fine arts programs that were broadcast by 3LO).

Currently, the official radio broadcast partners of the AFL are:

Internet[edit]

The official internet/mobile broadcast partner of the AFL is Bigpond, part of Telstra. The AFL also provides exclusive broadband content including streaming video for international fans via its website. Bigpond also hosts the official websites of all the 17 AFL clubs excluding Essendon.

The service is also provided to international subscribers. Delayed video is available 12 hours or more after the game.

However, the website is frequently derided by users for its convoluted information architecture and bloated presentation.[50][51]

From 2012 Telstra will broadcast live matches over its NextG mobile network for a pay-per-view or season fee.[52]

Corporate relations[edit]

Sponsorship[edit]

The following are the official naming sponsors of the VFL/AFL competition:

¹Note: In 2001 CUB and Coca-Cola were joint sponsors

Publishing and print[edit]

The official print broadcast partner of the AFL is News Limited. The AFL Record is a match-day magazine published by the AFL and is read by around 225,000 people each week.

Membership[edit]

The AFL sells memberships that entitle subscribers to reserve seats for matches at Docklands Stadium and Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne. AFL members also receive priority access to finals. Two levels of memberships are now offered, silver and full, with the main difference being that only full members have guaranteed access to Preliminary and Grand Final matches.[53]

Merchandising[edit]

The AFL runs a chain of stores that sell merchandise from all clubs. Merchandise is also available from other retailers.

AFL World[edit]

A modern museum called the Hall of Fame and Sensation opened in Melbourne in 2003 to celebrate the culture of the AFL and to provide a venue for the Australian Football Hall of Fame. The museum, a licensed off-shoot of the AFL, was originally touted for the MCG, but the Hall of Fame failed to get support from the Melbourne Cricket Club. The new QV shopping centre on Swanston Street was then chosen as the location. However, controversy followed the appointment of an administrator as the museum began running at a loss. Many blamed high entry prices, which were subsequently reduced, and the museum remains open to the public. In early 2006 the name was changed to AFL World. It features various honour boards and memorabilia as well as a range of innovative interactive displays designed to immerse visitors in the experience of elite Aussie Rules. It was closed down in 2008.

Video games[edit]

The following is a list of all the video games from the AFL video game series:

Gambling[edit]

The AFL is the subject of footy tipping and betting competitions around Australia run by individuals, syndicates, workplaces and professional bookmakers. In recent years national website based tipping competitions have started to replace the traditional, but more labour-intensive, office or pub run competitions.

Fantasy football competitions based on actual player statistics (number of kicks, marks, goals etc.) are also very popular on websites and in newspapers.

See also[edit]

Lists:

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "Exit University – Football League Retirement". The Argus (Melbourne, VIC). 17 October 1914. p. 20. 
  3. ^ Linnell, Garry (1995). Football Ltd. Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia. p. 297. ISBN 0-330-35665-8. 
  4. ^ "ABN lookup". Aust Govt. 8 April 2007. 
  5. ^ Richardson (2002), p. 18
  6. ^ Landsberger, Sam (12 September 2012). "St Kilda will host Sydney in New Zealand on Anzac Day". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Wilson, Caroline; Raid on home turf of league; Realfooty.com.au; 16 February 2008
  8. ^ Flanagan, Martin (10 May 2008). "Go north or south, AFL, not west of the east". The Age. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. 
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  11. ^ Holmesby, Luke (24 April 2013). "Riewoldt proud to be part of historic occasion". Official website. St Kilda. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
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  13. ^ Gold Coast Suns officially revealed QAFL | goldcoast.com.au | Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  14. ^ Lane, Samantha (2 June 2014). "Peta Searle becomes first woman appointed as a development coach in the AFL". Daily Life (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  15. ^ a b All venues – AFL Tables. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  16. ^ Melbourne Cricket Ground – austadiums. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  17. ^ AFL Venues – Australian Football League. Retrieved 1 November 2012.
  18. ^ NZ: All your questions answered | St Kilda website. Retrieved 17 April 2013
  19. ^ Phelan, Jennifer (5 October 2013). "Saints lock in five-year NZ deal". Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "New Tigers unveiled today – Official AFL Website of the Richmond Football Club". Richmond Football Club. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  21. ^ Anderson, Adrian (14 August 2012). "Rookie Rule Amendments". AFL. p. 3. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  22. ^ Lane, Samantha (6 August 2011). "Players' trade surprise". The Age (Melbourne). 
  23. ^ Denham, Greg (24 February 2010). "Free agency becomes a reality". The Australian. 
  24. ^ O'Donoghue, Craig (25 October 2003). "AFL rejects free agency". The Age (Melbourne). 
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  26. ^ a b [1]– "Millionaires' club explodes," www.afl.com.au; retrieved 20 December 2013.
  27. ^ Massive pay hike
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  32. ^ International recruitment about to explode? – WorldFootyNews. Written by Brett Northey. Published 17 March 2008. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  33. ^ Current players listed via the AFL's International Scholarship List – WorldFootyNews. Last updated 25 February 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  34. ^ link Australian Football League Frequently Asked Questions
  35. ^ Robertson, Doug; Cornes calls for Origin return; Adelaide Now; 25 February 2007
  36. ^ Anderson, Jon (10 May 2012). "Rodney Eade supports return of State of Origin". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. 
  37. ^ Australia's Battle of the Codes – Statistics – Convict Creations. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
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  44. ^ Live and sweaty; 22 August 2002
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  46. ^ The day I bought the AFL TV rights
  47. ^ ESPN picks up AFL in UK and Ireland
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  53. ^ AFL Silver Membership details

External links[edit]

Statistics and Results

Major AFL news Sites