The 2018 AFL home and away season fixture includes a number of key wins for players despite the absence of a second in-season bye.
The players will benefit from a 50 per cent reduction in the number of back-to-back six-days breaks and a decrease in the amount of six-day breaks overall.
Only three clubs face seven or more six-day breaks, compared to seven last year, and the fixture also includes a more even distribution of Sunday games.
The new CBA includes an agreement that the AFL will consult with the AFLPA on the fixture as part of a broader commitment to collaborate on issues affecting players and the game.
AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh says player welfare, competitive balance and reducing the travel burden were the key priorities of the fixture submission put to the league.
“The AFL recognises the genuine impact fixturing has on player wellbeing and it’s pleasing they have produced a fixture that’s sensitive to this,” he said.
“The significant reduction in the number of back-to-back six-day breaks and a more even distribution across the clubs is a win for both player wellbeing and competitive balance.”
However, Marsh says the players’ remain frustrated that their request for the return of a second in-season bye continues to be ignored.
“The players do not view the week off after Round 23 as a bye because it doesn’t benefit the majority of players and is not a genuine rest for those who are about to play in a finals series,” he said.
“Two genuine rest periods during the season is crucial to player welfare and we will continue to push for it into the future.”
Highlights in the 2018 fixture from the players’ perspective:
– A reduction in total six-day breaks on 2017
– 50 per cent reduction in the number of back-to-back six-day breaks compared to 2017 (7 in 2018 v 15 in 2017)
– Only three teams have 7 or more six-day breaks compared to 7 teams last year
– Only 4 teams have more than 8 Sunday games, down from 9 teams in 2017.