For those who missed it, earlier today the AFL released its 2015 fixture list, announcing the scrapping of Sunday and Monday evening games, and the introduction of more Saturday afternoon football.
For years and years, clubs and fans alike, have been calling on the NRL to scrap Monday Night football in favour of a permanent Saturday afternoon timeslot.
Monday Night Football may rate well, but crowd numbers are usually borderline embarrassing. No one wants to see an NRL game played in front of a crowd of 8-10,000, especially in the bigger stadiums.
Make no mistake about it, Monday Night Football is a made for television timeslot. For all the talk from NRL headquarters re the advantages of the fixture, fans have voted with their feet.
They hate it.
Players and clubs feel much the same. Gate receipts are down, leagues club takings are down, and the atmosphere for players is sometimes akin to park footy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love coming home from work on a Monday afternoon knowing their is a game of footy on to watch … except when my team is involved.
Getting to the game after work is tough enough as it is, let alone finding your way home and trying to wind down to enable yourself a proper night sleep before work on Tuesday morning.
Sunday afternoon footy is such a worry for me, as the 6:30 timeslot during the early rounds allows for a slightly cooler afternoon kickoff. It’s also far easier to attend games for the majority of fans.
The AFL has seen the declining crowd numbers and has stated there will be no games played in the fan-unfriendly timeslots this season.
The NRL, on the back of a mountainous television rights deal, may not have the ability to dictate when its games are played, after all, as mentioned the Monday Night games rate well for Fox.
I do have to ask how much the NRL had to bend tho considering the AFL also signed a monster TV deal.
The AFL also did not have to change its Grand final kick off time to suit broadcasters.
Some teams seem to draw the fixture far more often than others. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw the Broncos host a Monday Night game. I’m yet to see a single Warriors Monday Night home fixture, albeit for obvious reasons.
Here’s hoping the universally panned Monday Night Footy timeslot is at least shared equally in 2015. Due to the television agreement there’s zero chance of it being removed.
Good on the AFL for stepping in and delivering a decision that purely has its fans and clubs in mind. Let’s hope the NRL can one day follow suit.