The AFL could make fundamental changes for up to three games played this season as the league weighs up wide-ranging rule changes ahead of the 2019 season.
Chief executive Gillon McLachlan has revealed the league is “certainly thinking about” using dead rubbers – games not involving finals teams – to trial new rules.
“I can tell you that there’s three fixtures on consecutive weekends that I don’t think will have any bearing on the eight,” McLachlan told SEN radio.
“I know enough to know that there’s fixtures that are available where we could do it.
“We’re certainly discussing it, whether that’s appropriate, the emerging view is that it is.”
The AFL believes congestion is an issue and is attempting to take steps to introduce more free-flowing football.
The league’s football boss Steve Hocking is likely to propose starting positions at centre bounces, bigger goal squares and a reduced interchange cap when the AFL’s competition committee meets on Wednesday.
Upcoming matches without an impact on the top eight include Fremantle-Carlton in round 21 and Gold Coast-Brisbane and Carlton-Bulldogs in round 22.
Two games in round 23 – St Kilda-North Melbourne and Carlton-Adelaide – could come into play if the Kangaroos and Crows fall out of contention.
McLachlan conceded clubs would need to tick off the decision to play under different rules.
“You would need them to agree and buy into it and to have a look at it,” he said.
While the games are considered dead rubbers for finals placings, results still impact draft orders and historical records.
Fans have reacted strongly to the plan and called on the AFL to instead implement changes in the pre-season or state leagues.
Agree with thinking outside box, but different rules for 2-3 games, an idea floated weeks ago, is in a different galaxy. We have to protect the integrity of the premiership season. @7NewsMelbourne
— Mark Stevens (@Stevo7AFL) July 24, 2018
The AFL is the only sport in the world where rules are changed every year,and the umpires have no idea about the rules.I think they make them up as they go along.
— owen jones art (@last_jones) July 24, 2018
Gerard there is a serious issue here. It’s called integrity for the rest of the competition.
— Simon David (@slimtilley) July 24, 2018
Trialling new rules no fans have asked for. Smart.
— Frankie09 (@Frankeh07) July 24, 2018
Treating club supporters with total disrespect. No other sport in the world would do this to their product. Just about had enough of AFL.
— Vass (@Vass2016) July 24, 2018
God helps us, actually he/she cant for obvious reasons! AFL HQ is taking the game (our game) down the path of world cricket, it's a terrible strategy…
— The Correspondent (@EFCcorrespond) July 24, 2018
— Daniel Brabham (@Daniel25Brabham) July 24, 2018
Remember when Ross Lyon rested mass amounts of players because the result didn't matter for Fremantle and we wanted to increase our chances of winning a final? And the AFL cracked down on it and eventually changed the rules and fixture as a result? Bizarre competition.
— Matt Nicholls (@mattnicholls29) July 24, 2018