The AFL has today announced an update to the 2021 VFL Premiership Season.
As a result of the evolving COVID-19 situation across the country and previous interruptions to scheduled games, the 2021 VFL home-and-away season will move to a match ratio system to determine ladder positions ahead of the 2021 VFL Finals Series starting on Saturday August 28.
The finals will retain the present top eight system should they be able to start on the weekend of August 28, but the AFL has put a contingency in place should there be any further delays.
The AFL is planning for all 22 clubs to play the final round of the 2021 VFL home-and-away season on Saturday August 21 if matches can be played to celebrate a year like no other. Dates, times and venues to be confirmed following the release of the Round 23 AFL Fixture.
The AFL remains committed to playing the 2021 rebel VFLW Grand Final. The Grand Final is not permitted to be played in Regional Victoria this weekend and the AFL is focusing on hosting the match when community sport can be played in Metro Melbourne and clubs have adequately prepared to play the match.
While COVID-19 continues to impact the community, the health and welfare of our players and the community remains the priority and all matches will operate in a safe manner anchored in the advice of respective governments, public health officials and medical experts. Strict protocols will be in place to protect players, officials, staff and the wider public at all matches when they return.
AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the VFL community continues to navigate its way through a challenging year for sport and although the conclusion to the season looks different, it was the only system to reward a Premier.
“The VFL community has shown great resilience, commitment and dedication to explore all options to have matches played during an unprecedented year for football,” Salter said.
“To play 107 games during a COVID-interrupted season with state lockdowns and moving borders has been an incredible achievement by the whole industry.
“In balancing all the challenges we face as a collective VFL industry, the match ratio system is the best outcome to provide the best opportunity to put together a start to finish Finals Series and crown a VFL Premier in 2021.
“We’re hopeful we can play the rebel VFLW Grand Final and VFL Final Series to reward the VFL football-starved community of fans across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and celebrate a memorable year of football.”
If football cannot be played on August 21, the AFL will move straight into the finals with the top eight sides as they currently sit on the match ratio ladder. If football cannot be played on August 28, the top 8 will revert to a full knockout competition, with first playing eighth, second v seventh, third v sixth and fourth v fifth in the first week.
A further reduction that only allows a two-week finals series would mean teams 5-8 are eliminated and it will be first v fourth and second v third for a spot in the VFL Grand Final.
VFL Finals Games will continue to be shown with broadcast partners the Seven Network, Foxtel and Kayo. The 2021 rebel VFLW Grand Final will remain on Kayo Freebies.
The AFL is working with Southport to explore all possible arrangements to have their Finals match played given they have already qualified.
Salter thanked all the clubs, players, officials and their families for continuing to adjust to changes to keep the season going.
“Our VFL industry has developed a strong sense of unity across all clubs which will continue into the 2022 VFL Season,” Salter said.
“The clubs have demonstrated a collective responsibility to play the final games and reward a Premier and on behalf of the AFL I would like to thank our clubs, players, officials, partners and most importantly our incredible members and footy fans for their understanding during the season.”
The AFL will explore all options to investigate ways to get fans back to the footy as safely and as soon as possible. VFL and VFL Club digital channels will have all the ticketing information for fans as each weekend’s games are released and fans can return to matches.
VFL Round 19
Werribee v Frankston
Williamstown v Northern Bullants
Port Melbourne v Coburg
Essendon v GWS Giants
Sandringham v Geelong
Richmond v Box Hill Hawks
Footscray v Collingwood
North Melbourne v Sydney Swans
Carlton v Casey Demons
Brisbane Lions v Southport
Gold Coast Suns v Aspley