The AFL have banished lowly Carlton and St Kilda from the prime-time fixture slots, while rewarding Collingwood and banking on Essendon.
For the first time since 1990, not one side that finished 14th or lower from the previous season will play on a Friday night in the season following.
So for Fremantle, Brisbane, Gold Coast, St Kilda and Carlton, that means the AFL has delivered them a devastating blow.
“A fixture gets easier when you’ve got a Collingwood playing good football and you’ve got what looks like the re-emergence of Essendon coming through,” AFL fixture boss Travis Auld said.
Collingwood have a whopping seven Friday night games, two more than any other club, while Essendon have four despite dropping out of the top eight this season.
“When it’s a team like Collingwood – such a big club, such a big supporter base – you have to take advantage of that,” Auld said of the losing grand finalists.
“There’s a lot of expectation around Essendon coming into next season and they’ve been rewarded.”
He also smiled when asked if he felt the AFL had nailed next season’s fixture, saying he was “incredibly confident”.
But not all fans agree:
AFL draw again beyond ridiculous. My team @geelongcats plays 4 teams twice before they play Dockers in R20 and 5 teams twice before they play Lions and Blues for first time in R22 & R23.
— Michael Bodey (@michaelbodey) November 1, 2018
We were dudded a tough draw this year too with the dreaded trip to Tassie and double ups against Port, Sydney and GWS.
— Victor Yong (@BigVic_AFL) November 1, 2018
Once again Richmond gets a soft draw ! They also get 13 home & away games at the MCG including the last 7 games in a row !! That's why I have lost faith in the AFL and the people running it
— Robert Charles Ryan (@bobryan178_ryan) November 1, 2018
once again Carlton have been given the hardest draw in the AFL, having been drawn to play every side that finished above them, some twice, and not one side that finished below them #AFLFixture
— mark hurkmans (@hurkymark) November 1, 2018
Yeah it's just a joke when AFL want to push this equalisation line but give an easier draw to teams like Richmond Geelong and Adelaide who are well ahead of Carlton, at the moment
— cary bain (@carybain) November 1, 2018
Fremantle and Gold Coast join the Saints as the only clubs without Thursday or Friday night games.
The clubs with five-day breaks will have long breaks either side of the short turnaround as compensation.
The league also took the unprecedented step of potentially swapping two round-nine games, should Melbourne Victory loom as potential hosts of the A-League grand final.
The two floating round-nine games is a first for the AFL – usually, only round 23 is kept open.
Essendon’s Saturday night match against Fremantle will swap with Sunday’s Port Adelaide-Coast match should Victory host the A-League decider.
The AFL has scheduled Thursday night matches in each of the five opening rounds in 2019, and eight overall, in a move certain to please broadcasters.
Richmond will play under lights on Thursday at the MCG in the opening two rounds against traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood, and again in round 13 away to Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Anzac Day also falls on a Thursday in 2019, when the Bombers will host the Magpies in the annual daytime fixture.
West Coast will unfurl the 2018 premiership flag at Optus Stadium against GWS in round two before heading to the MCG for a rematch of the 2018 grand final against Collingwood.