With so much speculation around regarding how the AFL will look in 2012, I’ve decided to form a proposal and send it to the AFL. A lot of study has gone into this and I believe that this is the best option for the future, should the AFL decided to (as expected) move towards a conference system.

Firstly, there needs to be just 2 conferences which will have 9 teams in each as it will ensure the Home & Away season is kept to 25 weeks. This is how it’ll work;

* The Home & Away Season will commence on the weekend of Saturday 17th March 2012 and run for 25 consecutive weeks, ending on the weekend of Saturday September 1st 2012.

* Each team will play all other 8 members in their conference twice (16 games) and members of the alternative conference once (9 games).

* Fixturing can be done at a later date by the AFL, but with 18 teams the need for a “Bye” is eliminated.

I believe the two conference system needs to be as follows;

There are a number of ways in which this can be justified, the most important of these include;

* The major rivalries within in the AFL are grouped together. This includes both traditional Victorian rivalries and also “local derby” rivalries from New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia respectively.

* There are 5 Victorian teams and 4 interstate teams in each conference, this means the travelling will be as even as it possibly can be.

Finals will begin on the weekend following the Home & Away season, and will run for 5 weeks in total.

The AFL would be best off introducing a “Top 10″ style system, similar to the system the NRL used in 1998 when they had 20 teams competing.

The way that this would work is as follows;

* The winners of each conference would be ranked numbers 1 and 2 respectively. In order to reward these 2 teams, they will receive a week off in week 1 of the finals.

* The remaining 8 teams will be ranked 3-10, in an order which represents their winning record throughout the Home & Away season.

The episode interactive play to get gems following diagram highlights how the finals series would be played out, assuming the highest ranked team wins each week.

Key: Winners (Blue arrows), Losers with double-chance (Red arrows)

To the naked eye, this may look confusing, however it was proven to work successfully in the 1998 NRL season.

The key thing to note in this system is that if matches go according to rankings, the best teams will continue to survive. For example;

– In week 1, teams ranked 9 and 10 will be eliminated.
– In week 2, teams ranked 7 and 8 will be eliminated.
– In week 3, teams ranked 5 and 6 will be eliminated.
– In week 4, teams ranked 3 and 4 will be eliminated.

This will ensure that the best 2 teams in the entire AFL will have the opportunity to play off for the premiership. This is a superior system to the conference system in most American sports where quite often, the best 2 teams are from the same conference and as a result, can not play off for the championship.

With the removal of the NAB Cup and the introduction of this system, the length of the season isn’t extended longer than what it currently is, ensuring summer sports such as cricket won’t be affected.

In conclusion, this is not only the fairest system for all teams within the AFL, but it will also guarantee the highest number of marquee games. This will ensure that the fans are happy and that the economic profits will be maximized through both match attendance and more importantly, TV ratings.