AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld says the league is now targeting the weekend of October 17 as its preferred date for a grand final.
The move comes on the back of a plan to drastically compress the fixture to make the most of travelling Victorian clubs' time based in interstate hubs.
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Auld confirmed the AFL is set to schedule 19 consecutive days of football from late July, including some double-headers on weeknights.
He left the door open to four-day breaks between matches, but has had some push-back from the AFL Players Association on that matter.
"If we condense from round eight onwards, we might be able to condense for a six to eight-week period, as long as we can make it work with the players and the clubs," Auld told SEN.
"That will probably save us a couple of weeks against a traditional round format.
"Then you might go back to a more traditional format for the last two rounds to prepare teams for finals and then into your finals series.
"That takes a couple of weeks off the season."
Players’ Association concerns over contracts
AFLPA boss Paul Marsh says players are open to the condensed fixture, but says the league must lift the freeze on contract negotiations first.
Marsh said players were taking on increased risk of injury by agreeing to a condensed fixture, which could in turn compromise their future job security.
“At the moment, one of our concerns is the AFL has put a freeze on players contracting into next year and beyond,” March said.
“We need that to be removed.
“We will see a greater risk of injury if players are compressing over the next few weeks, and we don't want to put the players in a situation where this impacts their futures going forward.”
Grand Final date clash looming
The grand final date was previously targeted at October 24, which would have clashed with horse racing's Cox Plate.
It is now on a collision course with another key date in the racing calendar, the Caulfield Cup on October 17.
"That will be the exact date, the weekend of the 17th anyway," Auld said.
"We still need to work through some of these breaks."— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) July 15, 2020
AFLPA President Paul Marsh says the idea of footy every night of the week hasn't been given the tick of approval by the players.#9FootyClassified | Watch @channel9 pic.twitter.com/jEhBwf0Vdt
"But I know one thing's for sure, it will probably change two or three times between now and then."
Auld confirmed a "split round" would be required to work around quarantine issues in Western Australia and that will effectively extend the home-and-away season to 18 rounds.
West Coast and Fremantle have returned to WA after spending five weeks in Queensland for the season restart, but could still be required to hit the road again late in the season.
Queensland teams will also have to travel again, with the AFL still eyeing matches in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.