There's no action on the field (yet) ... but there's still plenty to debate during the shutdown. Our AFL experts answer some of the burning questions.
Is the AFL biased towards Victorian clubs?
Niall Seewang: I'm not sure if biased is the right word, but there's no doubt the competition -- being born from the old VFL and made up of 10 Victorian teams -- is definitely favourable to clubs from Victoria. From the MCG Grand Final deal, to the fact non-Victorians simply have to travel interstate more often, to the fact AFL headquarters are in Melbourne, I don't think there's any doubt the Victorian teams get more advantages than their interstate counterparts.
Jake Michaels: It's pretty clear the Victorian clubs get a better run of it than those outside the state, and that's coming from a Victorian! Having said that, could the same not be said of the NRL which favours the New South Wales teams? The reality is Melbourne is the biggest AFL market and there are always going to be benefits of playing there. Is that fair or unfair? I'll let you decide.
Matt Walsh: Because there are 10 teams in the one state and teams may play a five-game stretch in the same city? It's not bias so much as a fault. The thing is, you can't blame the clubs' current administrations, nor Gillon McLachlan. It's an unfortunate byproduct of poor foresight when the AFL was created.
Should the Grand Final be moved away from the MCG if no crowds are allowed in Victoria?
NS: If the season resumes with crowds allowed in some states but without fans in Victoria, I think it makes absolute sense to move the Grand Final away from the MCG for this year. I know there's a contract in place to play the decider at the 'G until at least 2057, but if it came down to a crowdless Grand Final at the MCG or another stadium hosting it with a packed house, I know what I'd prefer.
JM: Crowds or not, the Grand Final shouldn't always be played at the MCG. I've been open to the idea of it being moved around for a long time and 2020 could be a great opportunity for the AFL to experiment and have its showpiece game played interstate, with fans. Will they do it? Well that's a whole other question.
MW: At the end of the day, there's a contract in place for the AFL Grand Final to be played at the MCG, so any argument really is futile. Let's move on.
Would you like to see a new broadcaster take over the TV rights?
NS: Yes. I doubt it will happen, due to the cosiness between Channel Seven and the AFL, but I'd love a fresh look and voice to AFL broadcasts. The current Channel Seven commentary team offers nowhere near enough insight, and is seemingly more interested in blokey in-jokes. I think Channel 10 was far superior when it broadcast the AFL back in the early-to-mid 2000s.
JM: I'm not too fussed with this. Whether it's Seven, Nine or 10, I don't see too much of a difference. Maybe ESPN should pick up some AFL rights...
MW: I concur with Jake, can we get Mike Breen in? "Dusty, bursts from the pack, launches from 55 ... BAAAANG!" has a great ring to it. But in all seriousness, the industry is too small in that changing a network won't fix things like blokiness and poor quality of commentary. Commentators and analysts will just move station, like Huddo did from 10, BT did from Nine, Luke Darcy from 10, the list goes on...
Should players have to take a flu shot to play?
NS: Don't get me started on anti-vaxxers ... but in a word, yes. The Prime Minister has already told NRL players 'no jab, no play' and I expect the same message will be directed at AFL players when that league gears up to return.
JM: Absolutely. If it's a measure which will help prevent the spread of COVID-19, then it has to be taken. I'm sick of hearing people say the players should have a say in the matter, THEY DO! They can choose to not get the shot, but then, as a result, they can't compete and jeopardize the health of others. It's as simple as that, at least it should be.
MW: No jab, no play is a great policy to have considering so many young people look up to footy players. It's the socially responsible thing to do, not to mention the healthy thing to do, so I wouldn't be against the AFL implementing such a policy to get the season up and running. Not sure I like David Swallow's comments...