‘Not talking sense’: Calls for major AFL change

AFL Rd 13 -  Sydney v Geelong
Swans coach John Longmire calls for change. Picture: Brendon Thorne/AFL Photos/via Getty Images

AFL coaches are all aligned on the competition being “uneven” and Sydney coach John Longmire wants the AFL to end the 2024 anomaly of teams enjoying two byes before others have had their first.

The ladder-leading Swans, as well as the Giants and Brisbane Lions, have all had their two byes for the season, having each played a team yet to get their first break in an extended 25-round fixture that included the “Opening Round” involving just eight teams.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon on Wednesday said the situation was ”frustrating”, with his team among those yet to have a break, also speaking about the “inequities” across the competition like not having a “whole state” to choose players for its next generation academy.

Longmire, who pointed to travel factors for his side and other non-Victorian sides as another factor to be considered, conceded the uneven draw was something the AFL could control.

“I’m sure they’ll be looking at that for next year,” Longmire said.

“Everyone forgets that we went from two or three practice games straight into the season. We went straight in and we had a nine-week block there that was pretty solid. We didn’t have that bye at the start of the season that other teams had.

“But even that, I think next year it wouldn’t be ideal if teams had two byes and some hadn’t had one again. I think in an uneven competition that’s got disparities everywhere with travel and home ground advantages and all of that.

“It’s not an even competition. Anyone that says it is, is not talking sense. But that could be one thing that maybe we can control as a competition that might be worth thinking about next year.”

St Kilda will gets its first bye next weekend, having played 13 games, and Lyon said it was one of the many “frustrating” things clubs like his had to deal with. He also pointed to the “inequities” in drafting that gave clubs like the Swans the chance to plunder all of NSW for talent before the draft and then concessions when it came time to pick them.

“It’s not ideal. The AFL is trying to create best for fans, and I think that is the starting point. We just deal with it. It’s frustrating,” Lyon said of the lopsided draw.

“Within this competition, I don’t think we’ve had too many handouts.

“We don’t have a whole state for NGA (Next Generation Academies). When you talk about inequities, you have to be careful.

“You have to have a look at what you are getting compared to the others.”