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AFL won't commit to AFLW season extension

Football

The AFL remains non-committal on granting AFLW players’ wishes to extend the women’s season and ensure every club plays each of its rivals once.

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The league on Monday confirmed details of its 10-round fixture for season seven – plus four weeks of finals – beginning with a Carlton-Collingwood opener at Ikon Park on Thursday, August 25.

An Adelaide-Melbourne grand final re-match features on the Friday night in round one, with new additions Hawthorn and Essendon doing battle the following day.

The Hawks and Bombers are among four expansion teams for season seven, along with Sydney and Port Adelaide, ensuring all 18 AFL clubs now have a presence in the women’s competition.

But the AFLW fixture remains uneven, with the 10-round home-and-away schedule agreed to as part of a one-season collective bargaining agreement struck in May.

“The focus at the moment, particularly with the expansion of four new teams, is to bed that down,” AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said.

“How long that is, I don’t know.

“What we want is to develop quickly a really even, competitive competition … and we’ll see how this season plays out.

“What’s worked for us so far with AFLW is to take each step at a time and then make decisions based on what we’re learning, so we’ll continue to do that.”

Soccer’s A-League Women competition is being expanded to a full home-and-away model and there is the possibility of an extension to the AFLW season with a new CBA for season eight and beyond.

Players have been vocal in their support for a full-length season, which Auld described as “a great problem to have”.

“There’s great enthusiasm around the competition and our job is to make sure we moderate the growth so that every step we take is a solid one,” Auld said.

“We’ve just got to balance those two things.

“There’s no doubt you can see through our investment in the competition that we want to continue to support it and make sure it continues to grow, it’s just at what speed.”

AFLW season seven will feature a ‘Dreamtime’ match between Richmond and Essendon as the feature of the league-wide Indigenous Round, mirroring the AFL men’s competition.

Local derbies will be played at the SCG, Gabba, Optus Stadium and Adelaide Oval, with Port Adelaide recruit Erin Phillips’ highly-anticipated showdown against Adelaide in round six.

AFLW games will also be played in the regional towns of Ballarat, Warrnambool, Mildura and Mackay.

Pride Round is scheduled for round eight, headlined by a double-header at Ikon Park.

All Saturday games throughout September are floating fixtures as the league attempts to maximise double-header opportunities throughout the AFL men’s finals series.

The AFLW grand final will again be played in the home city of the highest-ranked qualifier.

-AAP

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