- AFL finals system
The current AFL finals system was devised by the
Australian Football Leaguein 2000 as its end-of-season championship playoff tournament. It is a revision of the McIntyre Final Eight System, used by the AFL from 1994 to 1999, designed to address several perceived issues with that system. A similar system was previously used by the Australian Rugby Leaguein the 1995 and 1996 seasons, however there was no crossover in 1995, and in 1996 teams crossed over in Week 2, rather than Week 3.
The 8 highest-ranked teams in the AFL regular season standings participate in a four-week tournament, with two teams eliminated in each of the first three weeks. The seventh team is eliminated at the
Grand Finalat the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the AFL's historic home arena.
The system is designed to give the top four teams an easier road to the Grand Final, as two of those teams receive a
byein the second week of the playoff, while the other two play at home in the second week.
How it works
* 1st Qualifying Final: 1st seed hosts 4th seed
* 2nd Qualifying Final: 2nd seed hosts 3rd seed
* 1st Elimination Final: 5th seed hosts 8th seed
* 2nd Elimination Final: 6th seed hosts 7th seed
The 8 finalists are split into two groups for the opening week of the Finals Series. The top four teams play the two Qualifying Finals. The winners get a bye through to Week Three of the tournament, while the losers get home games in Week Two. The bottom four teams play the two Elimination Finals, where the winners advance to Week Two away games and the losers' seasons are over. Drawn matches continue into extra time until a winner is decided, with the exception of the Grand Final which is replayed in the following week.
Starting with this week, all matches are knockout rounds, because the second chance only applies to the first week.
* 1st Semifinal: Loser of 1st QF hosts winner of 1st EF
* 2nd Semifinal: Loser of 2nd QF hosts winner of 2nd EF
* 1st Preliminary Final: Winner of 1st QF hosts winner of 2nd SF
* 2nd Preliminary Final: Winner of 2nd QF hosts winner of 1st SF
* Grand Final: Winners of 2 PFs meet at the MCG
While the standard schedule indicates home teams for each game, the AFL's contract with the Melbourne Cricket Ground requires 10 finals matches to be played at the MCG in the first three weeks over a period of five years (2006-10). This means an average of two per year over the first three weeks, allowing the AFL to 'bank' games and play fewer in one year in exchange for more in future years. However, if non-Victorian teams continue to dominate the competition in each five year period, it is possible that the AFL will still have to schedule non-Victorian teams' home matches at the MCG. For example, in 2004 the
Brisbane Lionswere forced to play the second preliminary final against Geelong at the MCG because of the agreement with the MCC.
Week One: Games are held at the home teams' venue. If all four games would be held outside the State of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Elimination Final that is moved to the MCG. If any of the four games would be hosted by a Victorian team, at least one of those is played at the MCG and all non-Victorian teams get their home games.
Week Two: The MCG isn't guaranteed a game this week. The home teams each host the match at their own venue. If both games would be held outside the State of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Semi Final that is moved to the MCG. If any Victorian teams host a game, at least one will be played at the MCG.
Week Three: The MCG is no longer guaranteed a game in this week either. The home teams each host the match at their own venue. If both games would be held outside the State of Victoria, and the AFL needed to schedule a match at the MCG, it would be the 2nd Preliminary Final that is moved to the MCG. If any Victorian teams host a game, at least one will be played at the MCG.
Week Four: The Grand Final is played on the last Saturday of September every year at the MCG.
Advantages for ladder positions
Under this finals system, the final eight teams are broken up into four groups of two. Each group of two earns one extra benefit over the teams beneath it. These benefits are home finals, and the "double-chance", whereby a first-week win is rewarded with a bye, but a first-week loss will not eliminate the team from the finals.
First and second
First and Second receive the double-chance, and will play their first two finals matches at home: their qualifying final, and then either a semi-final if they lose their qualifying final or a preliminary final if they win their qualifying final.
Third and fourth
Third and Fourth also receive the double-chance, but receive only one finals match at home: either a semi-final if they lose their qualifying final or a preliminary final if they win their qualifying final.
Fifth and sixth
Fifth and Sixth receive one home final: their elimination final.
eventh and eighth
Seventh and Eighth receive no home finals.
The biggest criticism of the current system previously stemmed from the AFL's former contract with the MCG, rather than the seedings of the system itself. Because the contract required games to be played at the MCG while teams have moved away from Victoria over the years, it had become a regular occurrence that a team outside the State of Victoria had to play a "home" game at the MCG. In some cases, the "home" interstate team played a "road" Victoria team at the MCG, thus reversing the home-ground advantage. From 2006, a new agreement has been reached where no match "must" be played at the MCG each week; instead ten pre-Grand Final matches are played over a five year period (at an average of two per year).
Conversely, there has been pressure for rival code the NRL to use this system, especially following a major upset in the 2008 NRL Finals, when the 8th-ranked
New Zealand Warriors) upset the 1st-ranked Melbourne Storm; the first time that this has occurred in either the AFL or the NRL. [http://www.theroar.com.au/2008/09/15/the-day-a-band-of-warriors-stood-tall/ The day a band of Warriors stood tall}]
Early VFL Final systems
AFL Grand Final
Top five play-offs
Top six play-offs
* [http://www.mcg.org.au/default.asp?pg=footballdisplay&articleid=41 Grand Finals at the MCG] Contains a brief summary of the finals systems used in the VFL/AFL
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