AFLX
Highest governing bodyAFL Commission
First playedMarch, 2017; Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Characteristics
Team members8 per side + 5 interchange (differs to men's 18 per side + 4 interchange)
Type
VenueFootball pitch (soccer field)

AFLX is a variation of Australian rules football designed in 2017 to be played on a football pitch (significantly smaller than the Australian rules football playing field), unlike the full 18-a-side game or the established variant for rectangular fields Nine-a-side footy (including the AFL's own variant AFL 9s), AFLX requires just seven (later increased to eight) players and games are shortened. It is most notable for its use in official Australian Football League (AFL) pre-season competitions in 2018 and 2019.

It was founded in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience outside of its origin country of Australia.[1]

The AFL billed AFLX as its answer to Twenty20 or Rugby Sevens.[2] The format of its events varied – the 2019 tournament consisted of four teams each captained by a high-profile AFL footballer. In August 2019, the AFL confirmed AFLX would not return in 2020.[3] Despite being designed for play on a rectangular field, the AFL used only one dedicated rectangular stadium, Hindmarsh Stadium, as a venue for its AFLX competitions. The record attendance for an AFLX match is 23,828, set in 2019 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

Despite its lack of popularity with spectators and the AFL's short-lived experiment with it, the variation continues to be promoted by the AFL Commission as a participation sport in development regions and areas where full sized cricket grounds are not available.

Rules

The rules of the game differed from Australian rules football in some significant ways. The game was played on a rectangular soccer-sized pitch, allowing matches to be hosted by stadiums that usually lacked the suitable field dimensions for Australian rules football. The format was modified in the second year with AFLX 2019 seeing slightly changed rules:[4][5]

History

AFLX was first trialled at Arden Street Oval in January 2017.[7] In March 2017, it was trialed at was first trialled on a soccer pitch at Lakeside Stadium in a match between the Port Melbourne Football Club and Coburg Football Club.[7] It was launced by Simon Lethlean in July 2017 and later hailed by the AFL as key means of kickstarting Australian rules football in China as part of the AFL and Port Adelaide's push in to the country which was acknowledged to lacked the infrastructure to support the growth of the full 18 player game.[8]

On 6 February 2018, the AFLX pre-season competition was launched by AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan at Docklands Stadium. McLachlan said that AFLX would help promote football internationally.[9]

The 2018 competition attracted more than 40,000 fans to tournaments in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne, TV ratings were reported as "modest" by AFL standards, with the three events drawing an average five-city metro audience of over 120,000 on Channel Seven's secondary channels.[10]

In August 2019, the AFL confirmed AFLX would not return in 2020 to allow a greater focus on AFLW.[3]

Reception

The reception to the game among fans and the media was mostly poor,[11][12] with ABC Grandstand journalist Richard Hinds being particularly savage in labelling it a "hollow, unappealing, pressure-free, atmosphere-deficient, oval-in-a-rectangle hole yawn-fest".[13]

Con Stavros of RMIT's school of Economics, Finance and Marketing, expressed doubts about the potential of AFLX to export Australian rules football but acknowledged that using rectangular playing fields instead of the standard cricket ones would make such expansion easier.[14]

AFL Pre-season Tournaments

Season Winner(s)
2018 Group A: Adelaide Crows
Group B: Melbourne Demons
Group C: Brisbane Lions
2019 Rampage

See also

References

  1. ^ "AFLX: the business strategy behind the spectacle". Australian Financial Review. 11 February 2018.
  2. ^ Radical new concept AFLX set to be launched on pre-finals bye weekend by Chris Cavanagh for the Herald Sun 22 June 2017
  3. ^ a b "X off the map: AFL to remove AFLX from pre-season fixture". afl.com.au. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  4. ^ "AFLX 2019 rules explained". YouTube, AFL official account. 4 February 2019.
  5. ^ AFLX 2019 rules explained, Essedon FC official site
  6. ^ "AFLX Explained". AFL.com.au. 13 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b 2017 AFL Annual Report
  8. ^ Implementation of AFLX idea could in the end do more harm than good by Craig Little for The Guardian 26 July 2017
  9. ^ Lusted, Peter (6 February 2018). "AFL launches AFLX, using rectangular fields to attract new supporters overseas". ABC News. Retrieved 12 September 2018.
  10. ^ "AFLX Opening Weekend Attracts Int'l Interest". Sports Business Daily. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  11. ^ Jackson Ryan (16 December 2018). "The AFLX Is The Greatest Farce In Professional Sport". Ten Daily.
  12. ^ Alana Schetzer (17 December 2018). "Not even superpowers can give soulless AFLX what it most needs". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Richard Hinds (16 February 2018). "AFLX: If you wanted to kill AFL stone-dead, you'd turn it into this hollow yawn-fest". ABC News.
  14. ^ "AFLX - a stroke of sport marketing genius?". ESPN. 14 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019.