AFL players look certain to revert to just one bye round in the 2015 season with an October grand final also near certain in the AFL's determination to launch the season late – in April at the MCG.
The AFL's preferred option remains a Richmond-Carlton season opener after this year's dismal, soft opening to the home-and-away year which was largely forced upon the competition once it chose to launch the season early and afford the players two breaks during 2014.
Next week's meeting of the 18 clubs will see the AFL executive in charge of the fixture Simon Lethlean roll out a number of options for 2015 which faces the obstacle of the World Cup cricket. The World Cup final is scheduled for March 29, a Sunday, with March 30 in reserve in the event of rain.
This would make football's traditional home available for Thursday, April 2. Good Friday falls the following day and the question of an historic Good Friday fixture will go before the Commission at its next meeting at the end of June following the departure of Andrew Demetriou.
Although the Sydney and Southern Queensland-based clubs are pushing for stand-alone games in March and the Adelaide Crows could lobby to open the season at the Adelaide Oval, the MCG scenario remains the most likely. Either way the AFL will not revert to the 2013 model which played the opening round over a two-week period with no games at the MCG.
The acting boss of the AFL Players Association, Ian Prendergast, remained adamant his union would push for two byes which – under the most likely scenario – would see the grand final played on October 10, two weeks after its traditional time-slot and highly unlikely. "We understand there are different circumstances next year," said Prendergast, "but we will work with the AFL to try to achieve two byes which remains our preferred option."
The AFL expects to schedule the last game of the year on October 3.
The most recent October grand final took place as a rematch between Collingwood and St Kilda after the 2010 draw. On that occasion the Victoria Racing Club reorganised its spring calendar opening with Turnbull Stakes Day move to the Sunday after the grand final.
A number of factors have hurt AFL attendances early this season but the opening round of fixtures coupled with a three-week bye period has not been well received by fans. The 18 clubs will meet next Wednesday with the AFL's equalisation model also rolled out.