- League has listened to complaints as it decides 2024 draw
- Fans have been asking for change season after season
- Decision is a win for supporters with young children
The change to Friday night football that fans have been demanding for years will become a reality next season with prime-time Friday night matches now set to start earlier in a big victory for supporters.
On Thursday the AFL and Channel Seven reached an agreement to shift kickoff back 10 minutes so the games start at 7.40pm.
The 7.50pm kickoff time was a source of anger and frustration for fans who wanted an earlier bounce for a variety of reasons.
The new kickoff time for Friday night matches is sure to please fans with young kids, who’ve been clamouring for the change for several seasons
Footy supporters who attend games in person will also be happy with the change to what AFL CEO Andrew Dillon called ‘the cornerstone of the growth’ of the competition
Many were demanding a switch in the kickoff time so their young children could stay up and catch the end of the Friday night games, which are usually among the best contests of any given round.
Others felt shifting to an earlier time would result in more fans being able to tune in to the telecast, as well as making life easier for fans who want to attend in person, only to be faced with a long and busy commute to get home afterwards.
AFL CEO Andrew Dillon was quick to praise the change on Thursday.
‘Since its inception over three decades ago, Friday night footy has been the cornerstone of the growth of our national competition,’ he said.
However, fans might not be so happy with the change to the kickoff time for Thursday night matches – which will be held for the first 14 rounds (pictured, Collingwood fans celebrate their grand final win)
‘Matches under the Friday night lights have consistently delivered our biggest crowds and our biggest national TV audiences.
‘Fans are at the core of our game. The feedback has been strong and clear about starting Friday night matches earlier and I am pleased that in partnership with Channel 7 we have been able to deliver for them.’
The news came just hours before the release of the full draw for 2024.
It’s expected to feature matches on Thursday night for the first 14 rounds.
Unlike the Friday night games, the kickoff time for those matches has reportedly been moved forward from 7.20pm to 7.30pm.
The number of Thursday night games is a big change from the 2023 season, which saw them held on 11 occasions all year.