AFL clubs will play just one official pre-season match to reduce travel ahead of the home and away season as the competition continues to deal with COVID-19 restrictions.
The AFL had planned for clubs to play two AFL-sanctioned pre-season matches in the space of three weeks.
But on Sunday, it confirmed those plans would be replaced by one scratch match and one AFL-sanctioned match per team, in a bid to “safeguard the health and safety of the competition and the community by reducing travel prior to the home-and-away season.”
Each team will first play a practice match – scheduled by the AFL – against a team in the same state in the last week of February.
In those games, the two participating clubs will decide on the match’s format, including the number of players, number of quarters and quarter length.
The clubs will then each play one AFL-sanctioned pre-season match – of regular-season format and length – between March 3 and March 7.
There will be at least a seven-day break between the scratch match and the official pre-season match.
“In addition to ensuring we continue to prioritise the health of our players, staff, and the wider community, this arrangement provides clubs with the ability to determine individual requirements, allowing clubs and players to best prepare for the season ahead,” AFL fixtures boss Travis Auld said.