An increased focus on equalisation and sustainability will see the West Australian Football League season shortened to 18 games over 21 rounds in 2018 following a comprehensive review in partnership with the WAFL clubs.
The reduction from 20 games over 23 rounds will be one part of a broader suite of reform and sustainability measures that were recommended in the West Australian Football Commission’s Structural Review of Football.
WAFC Executive Manager Talent and Football Operations Jon Haines said that with finals included, the overall length of the WAFL season would be reduced in 2018 from 28 weeks to 26 weeks, delivering projected savings of more than $170,000.
“From a club and competition perspective it is a sensible approach that will deliver long term sustainability outcomes with projected annual savings of more than $110,000 across the nine clubs and more than $60,000 in competition costs such as operations, statistics and umpiring,” he said.
“It will also allow for a more equal fixture, with all clubs to play each other twice and the two additional games to be scheduled against teams that finished in the same third of the ladder or for a traditional feature game.
“It is critical that we find the right balance with sustainability and equalisation, while still retaining the important historical clashes and respecting the heritage of the clubs and the competition.”
The 21-round season, which was first floated by the Future Shape of the WAFL Committee chaired by East Fremantle CEO Todd Shimmon, will also bring the length of the WAFL season in line with all other State Leagues.
This includes the SANFL, VFL and NEAFL which are 20 rounds each, and the Tasmanian Football League, which is also 21 rounds.
A 21-round WAFL competition in 2018 is planned to commence two weeks later than the 2017 season and finish one week prior to the AFL Grand Final. Each club will retain three byes, as well as a general bye if a State Game fixture is confirmed.
All WAFL clubs will again be engaged in the fixture process for 2018.