The AFL is continuing to be agile in its determination to complete the 2021 VFL season and crown a premiership winner on Sunday, September 19, despite yet another round being lost to COVID-19 lockdown.
It has now become impossible to get the competition’s 22 teams to reach the same number of matches for the season, with the ladder now reverting to the match ratio system of determining positions that was in use in the AFL from 1991-93 after the Adelaide Crows were admitted as a 15th team.
It means instead of premiership points, the clubs will be ranked as a percentage of matches won divided by the number of matches played, multiplied by 100.
That decision has created a reshuffle to the ladder, with Williamstown rising from seventh to sixth, Collingwood from ninth to seventh and Werribee from 10th to ninth, while GWS falls from sixth to eighth and Frankston from eighth to 10th.
Footscray remains unchanged at the top.
The league is planning for all 22 clubs to play in next week’s round 19 as a finale to the home-and-away season, that will also give the finalists the opportunity to have a hit-out before entering a premiership campaign – lockdown pending of course.
The finals will retain the present top eight system should they be able to start on the weekend of August 28, but the AFL has put a contingency in place should there be any further delays.
Should that weekend be lost, the top eight will revert to a full knockout competition, with first playing eighth, second v seventh, third v sixth and fourth v fifth in the first week.
A further reduction that only allows a two-week finals series would mean teams 5-8 are eliminated, and it will be first v fourth and second v third for a spot in the VFL Grand Final.
AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the VFL community continues to navigate its way through a challenging year for sport and although the conclusion to the season looks different, it was the only system to reward a Premier.
"The VFL community has shown great resilience, commitment and dedication to explore all options to have matches played during an unprecedented year for football," Salter said.
"To play 107 games during a COVID-interrupted season with state lockdowns and moving borders has been an incredible achievement by the whole industry.
"In balancing all the challenges we face as a collective VFL industry, the match ratio system is the best outcome to provide the best opportunity to put together a start-to-finish finals series and crown a VFL Premier in 2021.
"We’re hopeful we can play the rebel VFLW Grand Final and VFL Final Series to reward the VFL football-starved community of fans across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and celebrate a memorable year of football."
Salter thanked all the clubs, players, officials and their families for continuing to adjust to changes to keep the season going.
"Our VFL industry has developed a strong sense of unity across all clubs which will continue into the 2022 VFL Season," he said.
"The clubs have demonstrated a collective responsibility to play the final games and reward a Premier and, on behalf of the AFL I would like to thank our clubs, players, officials, partners and most importantly our incredible members and footy fans for their understanding during the season."
ROUND 19 SCHEDULE (Venues, times and dates to be confirmed)
Frankston v Werribee
Williamstown v Northern Bullants
Port Melbourne v Coburg
Essendon v GWS Giants
Sandringham v Geelong
Richmond v Box Hill Hawks
Footscray v Collingwood
North Melbourne v Sydney
Carlton v Casey Demons
Brisbane Lions v Southport
Gold Coast v Aspley
(Bold = still in finals contention)
UPDATED 2021 VFL LADDER
|3||Box Hill Hawks||10||8||2||0||167.7||80|