Anzac Day will feature four AFL matches in 2020, with the league also opting for a later start for the traditional Collingwood-Essendon clash.
The change to the marquee match was confirmed when the AFL released its much-anticipated fixture for the 2020 season at league headquarters on Thursday morning.
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The Magpies' encounter with the Bombers at the MCG will get underway at 4.20pm AEST in what has been labelled a dry run for a potential twilight grand final in the future.
With Anzac Day falling on a Saturday next year, Hawthorn will host West Coast in Launceston, Sydney will travel to the Gabba to take on Brisbane and Port Adelaide will take on the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval.
"We spent a lot of time talking to Collingwood, Essendon and the RSL to make sure we give the day the respect that it deserves," AFL general manager of broadcasting Travis Auld said.
"We decided that there would be just one game in Victoria and the second thing was to make sure that that game had clear air and the best way to do that was to push the game back.
"We looked at a number of options but that's quite a popular timeslot and we felt it worked for everyone."
However the move hasn’t gone down particularly well with fans.
Many took to social media to suggest the 4.20 timeslot was way too late considering how many fans would be waking up early for dawn services, especially diggers and returned servicemen.
Others felt there were too many games scheduled and the tradition of the day was being ruined.
Wow not showing the Diggers much respect here.The older ones will struggle after the dawn service to make it through the day.Stop messing with the game and traditions.Anzac Day should not be changed.— Dale Wilson (@DaleWil52885397) October 29, 2019
that'll make for a long day for elderly diggers that have been up to attend the dawn service. Seems like the original concept of the game is being lost to commercial interests— Brad Sparkes (@sparkesy43) October 29, 2019
The AFL have made Anzac Day 2020 a twilight game. Because if there's one thing that day needs, it's an extra two hours drinking time.— DEDLEE (@NSDedlee) October 29, 2019
What a joke. Anzac Day is no longer a special event— Byron Bateson (@byzbateson) October 29, 2019
AFL you are ruining a tradition.— Leon Meletis (@leon_meletis) October 29, 2019
Why have you moved the ANZAC day game to a twighlight session?
If the change in the ANZAC day game is due to the AFL trialling for a twilight GF, then it's now clearer than ever the day is not about our real War heroes as it should be....— M E L (@Melcatzzzz) October 30, 2019
No one wants a twilight GF.
Leave it alone.
The AFL experimented with twilight matches in 1998, playing a number of Saturday afternoon games with a yellow footy and ending in the dark. Anzac Day fell on a Saturday that year and the game commenced at 3.40pm— SydK (@sydontheroad) October 30, 2019
Twilight fixture for ANZAC Day #AFLDonsPies - why would you do that: just to prove the point that you can draw a crowd to a twilight game or so you can add an extra game to the day? Pathetic @AFL Can't tell you how much I hate this decision #AFL360 @1116sen @WhateleySEN— Geoff Barbaro (@Geoff_Barbaro) October 30, 2019
Gotta say I’m not a fan of the @AFL moving the Essendon/Collingwood Anzac game to a Twilight timeslot.— Kevin Perry (@kevinperry) October 31, 2019
People attend the shrine, and then walk to the G. Thats the tradition.
What's with the AFL always wanting to 'improve' things...
I don't know much about how the @AFL decides these things, but surely a lot of people get up before dawn on Anzac Day and are pretty tired by the time Twilight comes around. Doesn't seem right to move the game back, but I guess that's what their TV master wanted.— Brett Debritz (@debritz) October 31, 2019
A significant move was made on another marquee day, with the Western Bulldogs replacing Essendon to play North Melbourne on Good Friday.
"We made it clear when we launched Good Friday that we'd trial it," Auld said.
"We'll continue to assess but North Melbourne have always been the anchor club.
"They've put a lot of time into it over a lot of years to build it."
An extra Thursday night match has been added taking the total number to nine, with five in a row to start the season.
2020 AFL FIXTURE AT A GLANCE:
* Richmond and Geelong have the most Friday night games, six each. Gold Coast, Fremantle and Carlton are the only clubs not to play on Friday night
* Four games on Anzac Day, including a twilight 4.20pm AEST start for Collingwood v Essendon, one hour later than usual
* GWS and Geelong to host first double-headers with AFLW games, in rounds one and seven
* Western Bulldogs play just one 2019 finalist twice (GWS)
* Essendon to play in four of the nine Thursday night games
* Melbourne play twice against just one top-six team from last season, Collingwood
* Two games on Good Friday - North Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide against West Coast