Australian Football League Confirms Commitment To 18 Teams
The Australian Football League confirmed its "long-term commitment to an 18-team competition, including two Queensland clubs," as well as int'l expansion with its new AFLX concept, according to Smith & Denham of THE AUSTRALIAN. The willingness of the AFL to "pour millions" into the Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney, the latest expansion teams, was explained on Thursday, with the league confirming the teams bring a combined A$40M-A$60M ($31.6M-$47.4M) in revenue. The league said that the figure "included broadcast money, sponsorship and advertising." AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said that "the presence of the 17th and 18th teams meant an extra game was played every round" and the extra fixture "provided a huge return" to the competition. He said, "If you include sponsorship and advertising, the figure climbs towards A$50 million ($39.4M)." The league is "also keen to again open this year's finals series on a Thursday night," but will wait until the final eight is settled before locking in time slots. McLachlan said that the "preferred schedule" for the opening week of the finals was for games to be played on the Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night after the bye (THE AUSTRALIAN, 8/11).